Willowbrook appeared to be in control early on against Morton, but a valiant effort by Mustangs quarterback Ismael Ledezma led a spirited Morton attack in the second half en route to a 35-28 West Suburban Gold victory for Morton Friday night in Berwyn.
Willowbrook (0-4, 0-1) jumped all over Morton early as running back Dom Battaglia went 61 yards on the first play from scrimmage to give Willowbrook an early 6-0 lead. The next Willowbrook possession saw another long touchdown, but it was called back due to a penalty.
The script was all too familiar for Morton (2-2, 1-1) as it fell behind early for a third straight game.
"After the last two weeks I was nervous coming out of the gate that something bad would happen, and it did," Morton coach Bob Organ said. "I give the kids a lot of credit, they didn't give up."
Morton recovered and took back the momentum with two second-quarter passing touchdowns from Ledezma, and the game was knotted at 14-14 at the half.
"They were playing a cover-3 and we felt we could take advantage of the passing game and 'Ish' had a great game and became a leader," Organ said. "He stepped up and put the game on his shoulders and that is all you can ask of your senior quarterback."
Morton continued to roll in the second half as Ledezma threw a 30-yard touchdown pass, then ran for a 21-yard score to give the Mustangs a 28-14 lead after three quarters.
"Our offensive line had some great blocks on the outside and the receivers did a good job on the perimeter getting out of coverage and they let me do my thing," Ledezma said. "We've gotten behind early in every game and we just learned to come back and we're gaining experience and it snowballed."
The Warriors battled back in the fourth quarter as Battaglia scored from a yard out to narrow the gap to seven points. However, after a recovered Morton fumble, Willowbrook could not move the ball and allowed a back-breaking touchdown the first play after it was forced to punt. Running back Alex Colon ran 59 yards to put the game out of reach with just 2:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"We had a letdown after we scored on that first play of the game," Battaglia said. "We made stupid mistakes and kind of quit once we got down."
Battaglia did score three touchdowns, but Morton was able to key on him enough to keep the game in control.
"Early on we did some things they hadn't seen from us before and we hit them early, but they adjusted well," Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said. "Obviously, the focal point of our offense is Dom and they realized that, so we tried to move him around and get him into as many spots as we can. We shot ourselves in the foot with all the penalties and we didn't finish off drives.
"We didn't jump on them enough early on and didn't put ourselves ahead by a couple scores when we had opportunities to."