Grabic’s late field goal lifts Niles North to victory
| Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
WAUKEGAN — After scoring a pair of touchdowns in the first four minutes of Saturday’s game against Waukegan, the Niles North football team went scoreless for the game’s next 43 minutes until senior Amir Grabic trotted out to attempt the first field goal of his career.
Grabic, a soccer player before this season, overcame the pressure of the moment and booted his 19-yard attempt through the uprights with 4.7 seconds remaining. Grabic’s field goal gave Niles North a hard-earned 17-14 road victory.
“I knew it was going to come down to a field goal, so I wasn’t that nervous,” Grabic said. “It was my first field goal. It was a little nerve-wracking, but (I came through).”
Niles North’s defense was vital in the Vikings’ three-point victory over Waukegan. Senior Dan Fricano opened the game’s scoring with a 16-yard touchdown reception, and then Fricano forced a fumble when he drilled quarterback Melvin Bobo on Waukegan’s ensuing drive. Niles North junior Vincent Rodriguez picked up Bobo’s fumble and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown, which gave the Vikings a quick 14-0 lead.
The team’s two-score advantage allowed Niles North to play with a margin of error and its offense needed it. The Vikings (2-1) lost six fumbles Saturday, but their defense held Waukegan’s rushing attack (32 rushes, 105 yards) in check. The Bulldogs (1-2) rallied to score twice in the second half, however.
The key sequence in the game came when Waukegan’s offense lost 21 yards on three plays and had to punt from its own 10-yard line with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Niles North began its game-winning drive on Waukegan’s 26-yard line and managed to advance to the Bulldogs’ 2-yard line before Grabic won the game.
“We started off great with two touchdowns right off the bat,” Fricano said. “We thought we had them, but four quarters is a (long time). But a win is a win, and winning with eight seconds left is awesome.”
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper Thursday to read more about the Niles North football team.