Glenbard West allowed two long touchdown passes in the first half and still managed to outscore Proviso West 41-15 in Hillside on Friday night.
The Hilltoppers' enormous defense matched Proviso West's speed with size and sacked Proviso West quarterback Malik Thurman five times in the first half to thwart a comeback.
The Panthers defense forced what looked like a routine three-and-out on Glenbard West's first possession, and the Hilltoppers sent Kendall Johnson out to pin the Panthers deep.
Johnson shocked every Panther on the field when he took the snap and bolted 60 yards for the game's first touchdown.
"The fake punt really hurt us," said Panthers coach Famous Hulbert. "We were prepared for it on the sidelines. We were all yelling to watch for it, but we didn't execute."
"We we saw something in film and thought we would pull the trigger early," said Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet.
The Panthers offense responded on the next possession. While facing third down from the 6-yard line, Thurman threw a 94-yard touchdown pass to speedy wide receiver Ryan Woods.
"(Proviso West) is as good as any team weve played," Hetlet said.
In the second quarter Hilltoppers quarterback Mike Matthew set up a screen pass to senior Nick Burrello in traffic. Burrello weaved his way through the Panthers' defensive backfield to put the Hilltoppers back on top 14-6.
"Anytime you can create separation from a team like Proviso West is important," Hetlet said.
The Hilltoppers special teams blocked a punt shortly after Burrello's touchdown and the offense capitalized. On the first play from scrimmage, Johnson found the end zone on a 20-yard touchdown carry.
Proviso West went back to the deep ball on its next possession, and once again the Thurman-to-Woods connection produced a quick touchdown strike. This time it was a 68-yard reception that brought hope back to the Panthers sideline.
"When we come to play, we can play with any team," Hulbert said. "But we had too many mental breakdowns tonight."
Matthew capped another touchdown drive for the Hilltoppers on a 5-yard run in the closing minutes of the second quarter, and Burrello returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown to open the third.
The comeback was pronounced dead after Glenbard West linebacker Justin Mesch picked off a pass for a touchdown to give the Hilltoppers a 41-13 lead.
The final points of the game came as Jevar Glover recorded a safety for the Panthers defense midway through the third.