Jacob Thomas, a 5-foot-6, 140-pound running back, ran the fastest 28 yards of his life.
He was the Blur Runner in his team’s amazing comeback.
His 28-yard sprint into the end zone with 90 seconds left in the fourth quarter pumped new life into the Lake Forest High School football team.
In a do-or-cry game, the Scouts found a way on a misty night in Zion.
In dramatic fashion, the Scouts kept their state playoff hopes alive by rallying — scoring two touchdowns in the final 5 minutes, 40 seconds — past host Zion-Benton 14-8 on Oct. 6.
“There was a sense of urgency,” said Lake Forest head coach Chuck Spagnoli. “But we didn’t panic.
“We had some kids make plays,” he added.
Thomas had a career night. The elusive junior rushed for 153 yards on 26 carries.
It looked like he might’ve have found another gear on that clutch TD run. He took a toss from quarterback Jack Mislinski and broke free down the left sideline.
Zion-Benton defensive back Tyler Creamer, with a good angle, gave chase but was unable to track him down in time.
“He [Creamer] almost caught me, so I’m glad that I didn’t look back,” said Thomas.
Thomas, who finished the game with five carries of 10 yards or more, admitted that the play was a bit of blur. Moments after the game, he couldn’t recall who sprung him.
“I know that I got some good blocks,” he said. “Have to watch the film to see who made them.”
LF’s other “film” star was Ryan Cekay.
The highly touted wide receiver came up with his best game of the season: 5 catches, 125 yards.
The one that he’ll always remember came at the 5:40 mark of the fourth quarter, when Cekay slipped into the left corner of the end zone and caught a 16-yard fast ball from Mislinski to cut Zion-Benton’s lead to 8-6.
Credit Mislinski, as well. The senior QB bounced back brilliantly. After getting intercepted twice, he played awfully well down the stretch.
And then, there’s the defense and special teams.
The hit of the night came with 1:26 left in the game by — who else? — senior John Deering. On Jack Brush’s kickoff, No. 36 absolutely leveled — or, should we say, creamed — Creamer on the return.
Deering made plays all night in holding the Zion-Benton offense to six points (the Zee-Bees other points came on a safety in the second quarter). The star inside linebacker led the Scouts (3-4) in tackles (8). He also had a tackle for loss.
Deering shared the defensive spotlight with the usual suspects.
Senior defensive lineman Spencer Yauch had a quarterback sack and four other tackles for loss.
Sophomore defensive end Rylie Mills had two TFLs and a blocked PAT kick.
Shannon Charleston (4 tackles, 2 TFLs), Patrick Yale (5 tackles), Chris Cavalaris (4 tackles) and Will Freeman (4 tackles) also were productive.
And the unsung hero? That has to be Dominick Keating, a virtual unknown.
Keating, a 5-8, 145-pound junior, made himself known by making a game-changing play with 7:24 left in regulation. He busted through and blocked a punt by Zion-Benton’s Gerardo Zamudio at the Z-B 25-yard line.
“Huge play by Dominick,” said Cavalaris. “We needed something to get our juice back.
“He doesn’t get a lot of playing time, and he’s not a well-known player,” Cavalaris added. “But he comes to practice every day and works his [butt] off.”
Spagnoli was thrilled to see Keating come through.
“Typically, he’s a backup for us on [the punt block team],” said the coach. “And this was the only time he was out there tonight.
“I’d say it’s pretty clear that it won’t the last time he’ll be out there,” Spagnoli added.
LF’s Game Balls: Jacob Thomas (RB), Ryan Cekay (WR), John Deering (LB), Spencer Yauch (DL), Rylie Mills (DL), Shannon Charleston (DL)
Zion-Benton’s Game Balls: Jordan Chisum (RB), Tyler Geiman (WR-DB), Jamir Gibson (DL), Jason Freeman (LB)
LF’s Offensive Player of the Game: Thomas
LF’s Defensive Player of the Game: Yauch
LF’s Offensive Stat Leaders
— Thomas (26 rushes, 153 yards, 28-yard TD run; 2 catches, 10 yards)
— Cekay (5 catches, 125 yards, 16-yard TD catch)
— Jack Mislinski (10-28-2 passing, 138 yards, 1 TD)
— Bryan Ooms (10 rushes, 45 yards)
— Jack VanHyfte (2 catches, 15 yards)
Z-B’s Offensive Stat Leaders
— Chisum (24 rushes, 109 yards)
— Geiman (2 catches, 48 yards, 26-yard TD catch)
— Jerome Crawford (6-22-0, 71 yards, 1 TD)
LF’s Defensive Stat Leaders
— Deering (1 solo tackle, 7 assists, 1 tackle for loss)
— Yauch (2 assists, 1 quarterback sack, 4 TFLs)
— Mills (1 solo, 1 assist, 2 TFLs)
— Charleston (1 solo, 3 assists, 2 TFLs)
— Eddie Scheidler (2 assists)
— Chris Cavalaris (2 solos, 2 assists, 1 pass breakup)
— Will Freeman (2 solos, 2 assists)
— Patrick Yale (1 solo, 4 assists)
— Ooms (7-yard QB sack)
Z-B’s Defensive Stat Leaders
— Geiman (7 tackles)
— Gibson (8 tackles, 1 TFL)
— Freeman (8 tackles, 1 interception)
— Donavyn Staples (7 tackles, 2 TFLs)
LF’s Unsung Hero: Dominick Keating
Notable: The Scouts (3-4) will need to beat Mundelein and Waukegan in the next two weekends to earn a state playoff berth. Zion-Benton slipped to 3-4 overall … Ryan Cekay made a nice catch in the end zone. But his most impressive grabs came earlier: a 50-yarder just before halftime and a 23-yarder on a sideline route early in the fourth quarter. … LF came away with the win despite committing 13 penalties for 108 yards. … LF finished with 17 first downs and 333 total yards. Zion-Benton had 11 first downs and 161 yards.
— “[Jacob] Thomas did an excellent job for us tonight. As the season has progressed, he’s gotten better and better. He’s making the most of his opportunities.” — LF head coach Chuck Spagnoli.