Evanston’s defense surrendered almost 400 total yards against Niles West and the Wildkits also turned the ball over three times Friday night in Skokie.
But every time the Wildkits faltered, Tray Banks did something to change the momentum.
The ETHS senior grabbed a 20-yard touchdown pass, returned an interception 95 yards for a score, and also brought a kickoff back 75 yards to paydirt to lift the Wildkits to their first Central Suburban League South division victory of the season by a 43-27 margin.
Evanston improved to 4-2 on the season overall, 1-1 in league play, while Niles West dropped to 1-6 despite rushing for 303 yards and passing for 177 more.
Trailing 21-7, the host Wolves were on the verge of cutting the deficit down to one score when Banks picked off a pass by Johnny Pabst and dashed 95 yards for a score in the third quarter.
Then, after West scored to make it 28-14 in the final minute of the third quarter, Banks grabbed a squib kick that bounced off a teammate’s hands and raced 75 yards down the left sideline for a TD that gave the visitors an insurmountable 35-14 advantage.
The Miami of Ohio recruit proved once again that you don’t have to just deliver on the offensive side of the ball to be an impact player.
“I wish I could tell you that interception was because of great coaching, but great players make plays, and one of Tray’s strengths is his instincts,” said Evanston coach Mike Burzawa. “That was just a great athletic play. He made two game-changing plays that really helped us out a lot tonight. It was hard for us to get refocused after last week (a 14-12 loss to rival New Trier) and we were fighting a letdown all week. We did what we had to do to win tonight.”
Kit quarterback Matt Little completed 14 of 21 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, including a 79-yard bomb to junior Brad Garron on the first play from scrimmage for a score. But ETHS turned the ball over on downs and on a fumble on its next two trips to the red zone before finally getting untracked with a 5-play, 41-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard TD run by Jalan Jenkins.
Niles West countered with a 10-yard run by Matt Metz, and then it was Banks’ turn with a reception-and-run on a crossing pattern that ended in the end zone with 3 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first half.
Micquel Roseman added a 3-yard scoring burst for the winners late in the fourth quarter.
Source: ETHS Sports Information