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NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- Last Friday night, Naperville Central students came dressed in suits as the Redhawks took care of business to reach the 8A semifinals. Saturday, Hawks fans wore Santa caps hoping to reap an early present in the form of a state championship appearence.
Aaron Bailey and the Bolingbrook Raiders had some early holiday plans of their own, edging out Naperville Central 22-19 in a come-from-behind win.
The Redhawks took charge first with a 9-yard touchdown run by their quarterback Ian Lewandowski after eight minutes.
Central held Bailey to 26 yards running and one completion in the first half, sacking him twice.
But Bailey and his offense found a way to grind forward. On the Raiders' first possession in the second quarter, Bailey ran three times and handed off the ball another seven. Bolingbrook equalized, 7-7, after a quick one-yarder from running back Jaden Huff right side.
"We knew we had to score and we knew we were in for a ball game for sure," said Bailey.
Bolingbrook charged forward with short runs and went up 14-7 in the third with a 52-yard drive and a touchdown pass to DJ Pruitt.
Upon getting the ball right back, Naperville Central needed only four downs to nearly even up as Lewandowski pitched one to Matt Randolph who ran 42 yards on the touchdown pass. Central missed a two-point conversion, keeping it at 14-13 to the Raiders.
Thereafter, Central began to struggle. After a 28-yard completion to Sean Goblet, Tevin Teamer picked off Lewandowski's pass meant for the endzone, holding on to a one-point lead for Bolingbrook.
Late in the fourth quarter, Bailey fired up his run game and the Raiders' defense really turned it on.
Down 19-14 to Central, Bailey slipped the Redhawks defensive line, for a stunning 60-yard touchdown run down the right side to make it 22-19 with a two-point conversion with seven minutes left.
Bailey piled on 181 yards in the second half.
Central got the ball back twice more but could do little with it.
Parrker Westphal, who made several stops on defense throughout the afternoon for Bolingbrook, put the nails in the coffin for Central, with two hard stops, keeping the Hawks inside their own 12.
"To be honest with we expected to get here. After we beat Mount Carmel, I said the team that wins this game is going to compete for the state championship," Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow said.
"We had just had to shut down [Lewandowski]," said Westphal. "And their running backs, who were good, we knew we'd have to stop them too."
Player of the Game: QB Aaron Bailey, who helped The Brook turn it on big in the second half.
Stat of the game: 125 lone rushing yards in the fourth quarter by Bailey, who had total of 205 yards in the win.
It was over when: Raiders defensive back Parrker Westphal stopped Central's last drive with a key tackle and a pass block the Redhawks' last two downs.
Quote of the game: "It's a blessing, just a blessing from God to get here," Bailey on the Raiders' state championship berth.