Naperville North quarterback Matt LaCosse looks to pass against Naperville Central durng football Friday at North Central College.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
Considering Matt LaCosse is 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, it's easy to see why Naperville North coach Sean Drendel considers his quarterback "our horse."
On Friday night LaCosse showed his size alone isn't what makes him special.
LaCosse plowed through the Naperville Central defense for 184 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns as Naperville North defeated its cross-town rival 27-24 in front of an overflow crowd at North Central College.
"I can't say enough about him," Drendel said of the future University of Minnesota tight end. "He's a special athlete, and the more he feels comfortable with what we're trying to do, the better everyone else is going to be."
"He's a great player, he's a great athlete," Redhawks coach Mike Stine added of LaCosse. "He's big, strong, fast. They've got some big guys up front and they spread the field. And he's tough to tackle 1-on-1."
Naperville Central (3-3, 2-2 DuPage Valley Conference) took its only lead of the game at 18-14 with 6:13 to play when Hayden Daniels passed to Ian Lewandowski for a 14-yard touchdown.
"We took the lead in the fourth quarter and gave ourselves a chance," Stine said. "They just made a play in the end and we weren't able to stop them."
After losing yardage on the first two plays of their next possession, the Huskies (4-2, 2-2) moved quickly downfield, retaking the lead for good when LaCosse went over right guard from a yard out for his third TD.
"We were thinking there's no doubt in our minds we're going to score," said LaCosse, who was 13-of-18 passing for 155 yards. "Everyone on the sidelines and the benches were like, we have to score. We score, we win the game. And we won."
The Redhawks' next drive stalled at the Huskies' 49-yard line with 1:12 left, and Naperville North turned to LaCosse again to run out the clock. On the possession's third play, LaCosse rolled left, found a host of Redhawks waiting for him and reversed field. He found nothing but open turf, thanks to a big block by lineman Anthony DiMonte, and scored on a 56-yard run with 44.4 seconds left for a 27-18 lead.
"You give the ball to your best kid and you let him make plays," Stine said. "Sean did a great job doing that."
"It wasn't me at all," LaCosse said. "I just ran forward. It was all the offensive linemen, the wide receivers, the slots. They're the ones you should be interviewing. It's not me. I'm just running."
Naperville Central didn't give up, however, scoring on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Daniels to Derrick Avers with 1.7 seconds to go. But it wasn't enough to stop the Huskies' celebration.
"Unlike basketball and baseball, this is probably the most fun out of any sport to beat Naperville Central," said LaCosse, a three-sport athlete. "This is a huge crowd, anywhere from 8,000-10,000 people here. It's loud. It's a great atmosphere. It was a lot of fun tonight."