Two costly turnovers in the first half shoved Evanston’s football team into a hole Friday night at Robert Naughton Field in Northfield — and the Wildkits never really recovered.

New Trier fought off a second half comeback in the renewal of one of the state’s oldest grid rivalries and scored a 35-28 triumph over the Wildkits. ETHS, which hasn’t defeated the Trevians since the 2010 season, fell to 4-2 on the year and 0-2 in Central Suburban League South division play.

Evanston still leads the all-time head-to-head series between the two schools with 54 wins to New Trier’s 50 (there have been 6 ties), but the frustration is building for a Kit program that never seems to be able to put its best foot forward when the two teams meet.

“We made a lot of mistakes tonight, and it’s hard to come back when you make that many mistakes,” noted Evanston head coach Mike Burzawa. “We didn’t come out and execute tonight. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up.

“We executed better as a team in the second half but we didn’t get the job done. We woke up and we played our brand of football. Losing this one hurts, but all of our season goals are still in place. We’ve got to finish the season strong and run the table (win the last three regular season games), that’s all there is to it now.”

Quadre Nicholson (1) of Evanston looks for running room in Friday’s 35-28 loss at New Trier.

ETHS quarterback Ben Tarpey tossed two interceptions — including a pick six that New Trier’s Carson Kosanovich returned 21 yards for the first score of the game — and had trouble cranking up the offense in the first half. Evanston trailed 21-6 at the half, with the visitors’ only score coming on a 1-yard plunge by Collin Olla-Chatman in the final minute of the first quarter.

Olla-Chatman, the team’s starting nose tackle, moved over to offense for the first time this week as part of the short-yardage package. The 6-foot, 240-pound senior added another short TD run during the Kits’ second half comeback try.

The Wildkits also counted a 2-yard TD run by Quadre Nicholson (32 carries for 130 yards) and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tarpey to Mike Axelrood before time ran out on the comeback attempt.

With a scoring drive that consumed more than 8 and one-half minutes, Evanston chewed up the third quarter clock and pulled to within 21-12 on Chatman’s 1-yard plunge with 0:49 seconds left in the period. Tarpey pulled off the biggest play of the march on a keeper that netted 8 yards on 4th down and 7 from the New Trier 27. But Nicholson was dragged down short of the end zone on the PAT try, as the visitors attempted nothing but 2-pointers after all of their touchdowns.

Evanston’s Mike Axelrood (37) gets a step on New Trier’s Carson Kosanovich.

New Trier countered with a jet sweep that sprung Donovan Perkins for a 52-yard TD run and restored the two possession lead. Back came the Kits led by Tarpey, who guided his team for a 10-play, 80 yard drive that resulted in Axelrood’s TD catch with 8:31 remaining.

But the Kits couldn’t get a stop when they needed it. Quarterback Carson Oschenhirt burned ETHS with a screen pass to his big tight end, Duke Olges, and the 27-yard completion set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Brian Sitzer.

Evanston answered with one more scoring drive, climaxed by Nicholson’s 1-yard run and a subsequent PAT pass from Tarpey to Axelrood. But the Trevians recovered the onside kick and milked the last 3 and a half minutes off the clock to secure the victory.

New Trier improved to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in league play despite the fact that ETHS racked up a season-high 26 first downs and out-gained the winners 379-311 in total yardage.

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.

Dennis Mahoney

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for Evanston Township High School.

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