On Saturday, August 26, 2017, the Naperville North football team opened its season with a comeback for the ages, one that will likely never be repeated, and is possibly the biggest of its kind in the history of the game at any level.
It immediately appeared that the Huskies 256-mile trip to Edwardsville would be for naught, as the Tigers jumped out to a 28-0 first quarter lead behind quarterback Kendall Abdur-Rahman’s 159 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Abdur-Rahman left the game for good at that juncture with cramps, but the Tigers appeared to be in good shape with running back Dionte Rodgers scoring three first half TDs, as the Edwardsville lead ballooned to 42-0.
Naperville North coach Sean Drendel graciously told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the game that the rally likely wouldn’t have occurred had Abdur-Rahman stayed in the game, saying "If their quarterback stays in the game, I don't think we stop him. That was a big piece of their game. They had to shorten their playbook. Then we could do some things.”
Per NFHS rules, had the Edwardsville lead been at 40 points at any time in the second half, the clock would have run continuously, making a comeback nearly impossible. Naperville North used a 55-yard second quarter fumble return from Bo Richter to setup their first score, a run by quarterback Drake Davis, while Nick Calcagno caught his first TD of game from Davis minutes later to make the score 42-14 at halftime.
The second half belonged to Davis, Calcagno and the Naperville North special teams. Matt Maschmeier returned a third quarter kickoff 72 yards for a score, while Colongo grabbed two more TDs en route to 13 catches for 238 yards in the game. Ryan Laurenzo added nine receptions for 97 yards, including one TD. Calcagno’s 83-yard punt return for a score in the fourth quarter cut the Edwardsville lead to 49-47, setting the stage for Davis’ one-yard plunge with 7.9 seconds remaining in the game to lift Naperville North to the improbable 53-49 victory.
The comeback is potentially the biggest in football history, and attracted national attention from the likes of ESPN, who aired highlights of the game.
The largest comeback in NFL history occurred when the Buffalo Bills rallied from a 32-point deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers 41-38 in overtime on January 3, 1993.
The largest comeback in NCAA Division I history came in 2006 when Michigan State scored 38 unanswered points against Northwestern to erase a 35-point deficit to win 41-38.
See more reaction from the Naperville North team from Positively Naperville
Read the game stories from the Daily Herald
and St. Louis Post-Dispatch