PALOS HILLS – The bus broke down on the way to Palos Hills, and the Minooka sophomores didn’t kick off until 6 p.m.
The varsity did begin at 8 because the Indians sophomores forced a running clock six minutes into the third quarter of a 46-0 victory.
The Indians fumbled the opening kickoff. Stagg marched down and scored for an early 6-0 lead.
Fortunately for Minooka coach Paul Forsythe, junior quarterback John Carnagio, was back under center. Late in the first quarter, Carnagio hit wide receiver Isaiah Hill (five receptions, 79 yards, two touchdowns) from 18 yards out, and Mike Malinowski scored from the 1 for a 14-6 lead.
Carnagio saved his best for last, hitting senior wide receiver Jake Adams from 18 yards out to tie the score at 34 with 3:47 to go. Brennan Loughran kicked his fifth straight extra point for a 35-34 lead. The Indians’ defense turned Stagg over on downs to effectively end it.
“I was just hoping for a good snap, a good hold, which I received, and I was confident I could kick it through,” Loughran said. “First time we played Stagg, and we had our backs against the wall and came away with the win.”
“Overall team win. We really got a big win and on to next week,” Carnagio said. “I was very confident on the game-winning drive. I knew we could go down and score. The line gave me a lot of protection.”
Carnagio completed 22 of 29 passes for 259 yards and three scores. Adams hauled in three passes, including the game-winner, for 38 yards.
“I ran the wrong route on the winning play, but was wide open, and Johnny put it right in my hands,” Adams said. “We started out slow and then got the big stop on defense and came back and won. Johnny played a great game, and I’m really proud of him.”
After Stagg tied the score at 14 in the second quarter, Hill’s 61-yard punt return set up his second touchdown reception from 4 yards out for a 20-14 halftime lead.
“The offense played well and the defense came up and made some big stops when we needed them,” Hill said.
Stagg pulled within 21-20 in the third quarter. Minooka’s leading ground gainer, junior Drew Turek (58 yards in five carries), scored from 15 yards out to make it 28-20. But Stagg scored on Herbert Hughes’ 50-yard run to get within 28-26, then went ahead on a 20-yard TD run and a two-point conversion for a 34-28 lead.
With 6:47 left, the Indians defense came up with a big stop, led by senior defensive end Blake Parzych and senior safety Jack Sasso.
Minooka took over at its 27. On second-and-18, Jaccor Blakney ran for 18 yards. Later in the drive, he went 32 yards with a screen pass before Carnagio hit Adams to tie it at 34. Collin Cimaroli’s snap, Carnagio’s hold and Loughran’s game-winning kick followed.
“A wild win,” Forsythe said. “We overcame a number of turnovers and got out of here with a win. Johnny had a fine game. Isaiah had a fine game and Jaccor Blakney was huge on the game-winning drive. Our whole place-kicking unit had to come together for Brennan to nail the game-winning kick.”
Minooka will host Lockport Friday night in the Indians’ home opener.