How would Glenbard West's football team react to trailing an opponent for the first time this season?
The answer came in the third quarter Friday night.
Rallying from a pair of 10-point deficits, the Hilltoppers took control in the second half of a 28-23 West Suburban Silver win at previously unbeaten Hinsdale Central.
The Red Devils (3-1, 1-1), however, made it interesting late. An 18-yard touchdown pass from Brian Owens to John Claussen narrowed the gap to 28-23 with 2:49 left following a failed 2-point attempt.
Hinsdale Central got the ball back and drove to the Hilltoppers' 26-yard line, but Glenbard West's Nathan Marcus tipped a fourth-and-1 pass at the line of scrimmage to end the threat and seal the win.
"I think the first half we just started off slow, but we came back fast," said Glenbard West linebacker Contrell Silmon. "We just had to overcome some adversity. Just stepping up, that's what we had to do."
Behind Owens, who completed 21 of 31 passes for 292 yards and 3 touchdowns, Hinsdale Central ripped to a 10-0 first-quarter lead. Joe Zito's 1-yard scoring run made it a 10-7 game for Glenbard West (4-0, 2-0), but Owens threw his second touchdown pass just before halftime to boost the lead back to 17-7.
Coming back for the third quarter -- especially with Hinsdale Central getting the opening kickoff -- Glenbard West had to step up quickly.
"The third quarter was big, we knew we had to come out and play smashmouth football," said Hilltoppers defensive lineman Jack Wheeler. "That's what we did. They're a good team and we knew they'd pound it at us. We just had to play our best in the second half."
Two third-quarter stops by the Hilltoppers, including a blocked punt by Wheeler, led to 2 touchdowns and Glenbard West's first lead at 21-7. Henry Haeffner threw a 41-yard touchdown strike to Marcus, who had 6 catches for 119 yards, and Scott Andrews added a 5-yard touchdown run.
Hinsdale Central drove on its next possession but Marcus tipped an Owens pass and Silmon snagged it out of the air for an interception. Eleven plays and two fourth-down conversions later, Haeffner sneaked in from a yard out to build the lead to 28-17.
Facing their own adversity, the Red Devils staged their own rally.
"We're going to fight four quarters no matter where we're at when we play them," said Hinsdale Central coach Rich Tarka.
Hinsdale Central drove 80 yards in less than two minutes as Owens found Claussen for the touchdown with 2:49 left. A three-and-out and a 17-yard Glenbard West punt set up the Red Devils at midfield with 1:52 left. Five plays and 43 seconds later, Marcus and the Hilltoppers held on fourth-and-1.
"The biggest thing is I'm proud of my kids being down 10 and not flinching," said Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. "You've got to grow. And we're going to get better and get better."
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