Phillips beats Simeon on Tyler Turner’s TD pass in the final secondsMike Clarkon September 26, 2021 at 1:52 am

Phillips quarterback Tyler Turner doesn’t expect to be perfect, especially against the competition he’s seen this year.

The Wildcats opened with road losses against state powers Batavia and Mount Carmel, and have seen Public League heavyweights Taft and Simeon the last two times out.

Mistakes will happen, but Turner won’t let himself be defined by them.

“It’s football,” Turner said. “You can’t put your head down. You’ve just got to keep throwing the ball like you have no interceptions.”

That’s what he did Saturday afternoon at Gately, and his last throw was the biggest of the game.

Turner saw Avante Savage was going one-on-one against a Simeon defensive back and found him for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left to give Phillips a 14-12 win.

The pair also teamed up on a 34-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. In between came four of Phillips’ five turnovers, including a pair of interceptions thrown by Turner (one returned for a score) and a fumble at Simeon’s 2-yard line.

“We keep balling though we’re down,” said Turner, who was 9-for-23 passing for 90 yards.

Phillips coach Joe Winslow, the Wildcats’ longtime offensive coordinator who took over this season when two-time state champ coach Troy McAllister left for Sandburg, likes his quarterback’s resilience.

“A pick-six can break a kid,” Winslow said. “Like I told him: stick with it, it’s a long game.”

Simeon junior Malik Elzy had the 20-yard interception return for a TD at 10:48 of the second quarter and that was the last score until Turner and Savage’s second TD.

That also was the only big play Phillips (3-2) gave up to Elzy, a four-star prospect who is a consensus top-300 player nationally in his class. He has 13 Power Five offers, including Notre Dame, three SEC schools and six Big Ten teams.

The Wildcats limited Elzy to one catch for five yards. Junior Andre Crews led Simeon’s offense with 19 carries for 56 yards, including a 2-yard TD run.

“We took a page out of the Nick Saban and [Bill] Belichick book,” Winslow said. “My defensive coordinators, they came together and decided we would go beat them up the whole game.

“If [Elzy] ever had a one-on-one, it was going to be two-on-one. He’s a big dog, we respect that. … We treated him like he’s the next big thing. If we can eliminate him, we can force them to be one-dimensional.”

Meanwhile, Phillips was controlling the ball with a steady dose of handoffs to junior back Desean Hill, who had 161 yards on 23 carries.

Like Turner, Hill didn’t get down after the multiple turnovers, which also included a muffed punt and a muffed kickoff.

Phillips’ Avante Savage (9) makes the catch with Simeon’s Andre Crews (4) on the ground. Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun-Times

“It was rough, we kept fighting,” Hill said. “We’re tough. We had to stay focused [through] minor setbacks, keep grinding.”

That’s also the mindset for Simeon (2-3), which like Phillips started 0-2 with losses to suburban powers Joliet Catholic and Bolingbrook before beating a pair of Public League opponents.

“We did what we could do but we didn’t do enough,” Elzy said. “It’s a team loss. We’ve got to come back, get better and work harder next week.

“It’s a big loss, but we’ll come back from it.”

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