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Lincoln-Way Central running back Kyle Waytek didn’t expect to carry the ball 32 times in Friday night’s season opener against Lincoln-Way North.
But the junior responded time and again, grinding for 153 yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score in overtime on a 1-yard scamper up the middle as Central prevailed 28-27 in a barnburner in New Lenox.
“I appreciate the line for not giving up through all the adversity of the game,” Waytek said. “I thought I was going to be splitting reps with two of the other backs. It was a lot of pressure on me as a junior. Coach just told me to keep doing what I was doing and not think about it.”
Losing by seven and down to third down in its overtime possession, North cut the lead to one point as quarterback Arthur Ryan (20-of-34, 217 yards, 4 TDs) found wide receiver Nicholas Bucci on a 10-yard touchdown pass. Instead of going for the extra point and tie, coach George Czart called a gutsy 2-point conversion pass that fell just out of the reach of Conor McDonald (6 catches, 65 yards, 2 TDs) in the back of the end zone.
It was a furious end to the game after a sloppy start, with the first half containing more turnovers — six — than some bakeries. Central, playing musical chairs at quarterback, threw three first-half interceptions with Phoenix playmaker McDonald grabbing two of those. North killed three drives with fumbles.
“The beautiful thing about it, all the mistakes, is that we get to come in (Saturday) and watch a win,” Central coach Brett Hefner said to his team after the win. “We were way to sloppy, and it’s got to get fixed. But it’s a lot easier to fix mistakes after a win.”
Despite Ryan shredding the Central secondary, North struggled to run the ball, with standout running back Tre Lewis sidelined because of injury after his first carry from scrimmage.