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Mooseheart senior Oumaru Abdulahi celebrates with Ramblers head coach Gary Urwiler following Mooseheart's 28-27 victory over North Shore Country Day.
Mooseheart senior Sahr Mahoney (No. 32) heads upfield after taking a handoff from quarterback Jon Hart. Mahoney scored two touchdowns and kicked the game-winning extra point in the Ramblers' victory over North Shore Country Day.
Mooseheart junior J.J. Odunsi (No. 10) pulls away from North Shore Country Day defender Ian Meyer for a 21-yard gain in the second half of the Ramblers' victory.
Mooseheart senior defensive lineman Anthony Amos (No. 77) prepares to tackle North Shore Country Day back Ayo Okesanya.
MOOSEHEART, IL Oct. 19 - For the second consecutive year, the schedule matched Mooseheart and North Shore Country Day in the final game of the regular season.
And for the second year in a row, the teams played a playoff game one week before the IHSA formally starts its postseason.
The visiting Raiders literally ran all over Mooseheart's stadium on Friday, but the Ramblers got key stops and turnovers and then proved they could score themselves.
When it was over, Sahr Mahoney's right foot decided the game when he hit the extra point after he ran in a 37-yard touchdown pass to give his team a 28-27 victory.
"I had one bad kick, but I guess the ball slipped off the tee," Mahoney said. "But I still feel it's my responsibility to get the ball in the air and we came back and that's all that matters."
Mahoney was one of many keys for Mooseheart (8-1), which trailed 13-0 early and 27-21 late. Mahoney only ran the ball three times, but one of those went for a 2-yard touchdown. The senior also caught 7 passes for 107 yards and what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
The victory completes a two-year cycle in which Mooseheart has finished 17-1 in the regular season.
"I really don't know what to say about this," Mooseheart coach Gary Urwiler said. "Obviously when you're on the winning side of this, it feels really good. My hat's off to North Shore."
Mahoney also intercepted a pair of passes, picked a pair of extra points, punted four times and handled Mooseheart's kickoff duties.
"We pretty much just did what we've done all season, which is to come out here and play football," Mahoney said.
But it took a little from everyone on the team to recover from a 13-point deficit early in the second quarter. Elias Butler ran in from 1 yard in the first quarter and Kendrick Hales rushed into the end zone from 13 yards on the first play of the second quarter and the Raiders (7-2) were off to a flying start.
"We were flat," Urwiler said. "We weren't sure totally how they were going to come out and play us. They started putting pressure on the inside. We had to make some adjustments to shore things up."
Mooseheart rallied. First Chris Villaruel caught a 2-yard pass from Jon Hart. Then Hart ran in from 9 yards on what appeared to be a broken play. Those scores gave the Ramblers a 14-13 lead.
Hart had a starring role himself. The senior completed 17-of-27 passes for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"It was a great game," Hart said. "We fought back. You just can't ask anything more from our guys. We played hard and never gave up."
Hart's big passing evening came in the face of fierce pressure. Especially when they led, North Shore Country Day's surge defensively forced the Ramblers to make decisions quickly on offense.
"It was a challenge throwing," Hart said. "They were blitzing hard. But we were able to key on the guys who were blitzing and throw it into the areas where they weren't. That's what worked tonight."
Toward the end of a scoreless third quarter, North Shore Country Day drove from its own 2-yard line. The Raiders eventually scored on the first play of the fourth quarter when Okesanya ran in from 5 yards.
Mooseheart tied the score at 21-21 when Mahoney ran from 2 yards - a play that took him from the center of the field to the right sideline and eventually all the way across the field again. Mahoney finished his 100-plus yard scamper on the left sideline.
"I had a couple of really good blocks out there," Mahoney said.
The game now began to move end -to-end and North Shore Country Day took a 27-21 lead when Hales ran 65 yards up the left sideline. Crucially, the extra point went wide.
Mooseheart took the next kickoff and moved for a touchdown when Hart hit Mahoney, who broke a tackle and raced into the end zone. Then Mahoney kicked the extra point.
North Shore Country Day moved upfield, but forced to throw - Mahoney ended with the final key play of the game - an interception to kill the Raiders' final drive.
North Shore Country Day 7 6 0 14 - 27
Mooseheart 0 14 0 14 -28
NS-Butler 1 run (Butler kick)
NS-Hales 13 run (kick failed)
MH-Villaruel 2 pass from Hart (kick failed)
MH-Hart 9 run (Odunsi pass from Hart)
NS-Okesanya 5 run (Okesanya run)
MH-Mahoney 2 run (Mahoney kick)
MS-Hales 65 run (kick failed)
MH-Mahoney 37 pass from Hart (Mahoney kick)
First Downs 22 8
Rushes-yards 66-421 16-1
Passes 2-8-2 18-28-1
Passing yards 5 203
Total yards 426 204
Fumbles-lost 4-2 1-0
Punts-avg. 2-25.0 4-39.0
Penalties 8-36 4-40
North Shore Country Day: Butler 19-87, Czerwinski 13-72, Gonzalez 4-7, Hales 19-179, Okesanya 11-76.
Mooseheart: Hart 7-(-16), Mator 1-(-5), Abdulahi 5-21, Mahoney 3-1.
North Shore Country Day: Butler 2-8-2 5. Mooseheart: Hart 17-27-0 203, Abdulahi 0-1-1 0.
North Shore Country Day: Czerwinski 1-1, Okesanya 1-4.
Mooseheart: Odunsi 3-44, Abdulahi 1-(-12), Mahoney 7-107, Villaruel 5-35, Odunewu 1-14.
North Shore Country Day: Buter 2-50. Mooseheart: Mahoney 4-156
North Shore Country Day: Okesanya 1.