Wesley, Callahan rallies to stun North Central in closing seconds

NAPERVILLE, Ill. — As soon as the play started to develop, Mike Drass knew it was going to work.

With Joe Callahan rolling to his left, North Central’s defenders had no choice but to collapse on the Wesley College quarterback.

That left receiver Xavier Allen running all by himself along the back line of the end zone.


QB Joe Callahan threw for three touchdowns and ran for three TDs in Saturday’s victory. (Wesley photo/Denise Monaghan).

“I just saw Xavier in the back of the end zone,” said Drass, Wesley College’s football coach. “I said, ‘Oh, we’ve got it.’”

Drass was right. Callahan simply dumped the ball to Allen who leaped to catch the deciding two-point pass with just 7.5 seconds left that gave the fifth-ranked Wolverines a thrilling 50-49 victory over No. 22 North Central on Saturday afternoon.

Wesley (3-0), which trailed by as many as 21 points in the third quarter, drove 94 yards on 11 plays after taking over the ball with two minutes remaining.

The victory capped off a remarkable day for Callahan in which he completed 26-of-50 passes for 414 yards and three touchdowns. More impressively, the senior — not known as a runner — also ran for a career-high 111 yards and three more TDs on 13 carries.

On the winning drive, Callahan completed 6-of-7 passes for 76 yards while running twice for 16 yards.

Callahan got Wesley within a point when he found receiver James Okike in the back corner of the end zone for a 12-yard TD pass with 7.5 seconds on the clock.

Drass said he already made up his mind to go for two if the Wolverines scored. Allen is a Dover High grad.

“This is your one chance when you have control,” Drass explained.

“I knew when we decided to go for two that one team was going to be happy and one team was going to be sad,” he added. “They (Wesley’s players) were really happy. It was a great day.”

In the first meeting between the two programs, the Cardinals (1-2) grabbed a 35-14 lead with 10:25 left in the third quarter. But the Wolverines swung momentum their way when Bryce Shade caught a 59-yard scoring pass.

That started a run of four straight touchdowns for Wesley. Callahan ran for the last three TDs, going up the middle for a 17-yard scoring run with 11:30 remaining to give the Wolverines a 42-35 advantage with 11:30 left.


Wesley receiver James Okike goes up for a ball against a North Central defender. (Wesley photo/Denise Monaghan).

Just when it looked the Wolverines were in control, however, a pair of fumbles put North Central back in command.

Both turnovers set up TD drives for the Cardinals. A one-yard run by QB Justin Hunniford with 2:08 left gave North Central its 49-42 lead.

Wesley outgained North Central, 672-465 in total yards. James Baynard ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries with eight catches for 86 more yards.

Okike finished with 128 yards on seven receptions.

Tight end Kyle George had three catches for 41 yards on the game-winning drive.

Defensively, Wesley had six sacks in the contest, including three from defensive end Isaiah Ingram. Linebacker Samer Manna registered a team-high 11 tackles.

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