MINOOKA — If Yogi Berra was in Minooka on Friday night, he would have said it was deja vu all over again.
Unfortunately, no one quite as witty as Yogi was around, so most of the comments were of the "You've got to be kidding me! Not again!" variety.
The skies threatened to open up midway through the sophomore game before finally clearing and allowing the varsity game to start, albeit a bit late at 8:30 p.m. By the time it ended three hours later, Minooka had defeated Morris 28-21 as senior running back Nathan Gunn scored all four Minooka touchdowns and sophomore quarterback John Carnagio threw for 236 yards.
Morris took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards in 6:25, culminating in a 10-yard touchdown run by sophomore Keagan Sobol. Minooka answered quickly, as Carnagio connected with Jake Adams for a 42-yard gain on the Indians' first play. A facemask penalty on Morris gave the Indians 15 more yards and Nathan Gunn scored from 13 yard out. The kick was no good, and Morris maintained the slim, 7-6 lead.
"Sophomore quarterback, first varsity game against a big rival. Why not throw it deep?" Minooka coach Paul Forsythe said. "We knew that Morris would be keying on Nate [Gunn], so we figured a play-action pass would work, and it did.
"John [Carnagio] is a heck of a quarterback. You will definitely be hearing more about him in the future. That play really picked us up from that long drive of Morris' and got us right back in the game."
Morris again controlled the clock on its ensuing drive, but was unable to come up with a score in the red zone, turning it over on downs on the first play of the second quarter.
Carnagio and Adams again combined to get the Indians out of the hole, as they connected for another long gainer, this one for 45 yards, to the Morris 35. The Redskin defense held, taking over on its own seven, but Minooka forced a three-and-out. The punt gave Minooka the ball at the Morris 34, and Gunn scored on a three-yard run before taking in the two-point conversion to make it 14-7 with 5:57 to go in the first half.
Morris suffered another three-and-out deep in its own territory, and again Minooka took over in Redskin territory as Cameron Dirck returned a punt to the Morris 27. Gunn found the end zone for the third time, scoring from a yard out with 1:58 to play in the first half, and Minooka took a 21-7 lead.
Minooka got a 41-yard pass from Carnagio to Eric McMillin after taking over at its own 24, but Morris' Joey Webb ended that threat with an interception in the end zone to end the half, when the score stood at 21-7 at press time.
Jake Walker led the Morris offense with 42 rushing yards, but had precious little room to run after the opening drive before leaving the game with a sprained ankle. Carnagio hurt the Redskins with his arm, amassing 158 pasing yards, while Gunn collected 74 yards on the ground in the first half.
Morris forced Minooka's first punt on the first drive of the second half, and took over at its own 43. Griffin Sobol hit Tommy Ballentine for a 25-yard gain, then a 2-yard pass to Keagan Sobol and a personal foul on Minooka put the ball at the Indians' 15-yard line. Morris got to the three when Griffin Sobol ran there on third-and-one but, on fourth-and-goal from the four, Keagan Sobol was stopped after a gain of three yards.
"We had two drives stopped in the red zone," Morris coach Alan Thorson said. "We have to score on those. That's 14 points right there, and that's the game for us.
"But, we also have to do a better job of tackling. Gunn is a heck of a runner and a very physical back, but we have to clean up our tackling. We have some problems we need to fix, but we'll do it and get back on track."
Faced with first-and-10 from their own one, the Indians drew an offsides and personal foul penalty on Morris to escape the shadow of their end zone. After another first down, Carnagio hit Peter Andreano for a 13-yard gain to the Minooka 47. After a four-yard run by Gunn and another Morris offside penalty, Gunn broke free over the left side and sprinted 44 yards for his fourth TD and a 28-7 Minooka lead.
"There's no better way to start the season," Gunn said. "Morris is our big rival and this was my final first game against them. I wanted to leave a mark, and I did. Our whole team did.
"Our offensive line did all the work. They made the blocks and opened the holes. I have the easy job, running through those big holes they made for me."
Morris wasn't done, as Griffin Sobol hit Keagan Sobol for a seven-yard TD pass with 5:27 to play to make it 28-14. Two minutes later, a snap went over Carnagio's head and Morris' Jacob Webb scooped it up. Two plays later, Griffin Sobol hit Webb with a 21-yard touchdown pass and the Redskins trailed 28-21 with 3:09 to go.
The onside kick attempt rolled around near midfield before Minooka's Victor Turpin fell on it. Morris forced a punt that went into the end zone for a touchback and took over at its own 20 with 1:21 to play and no timeouts. Facing fourth-and-10, Griffin Sobol nearly had a first down, but was tripped up by Luke Brozovich.