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updated: 9/29/2012 12:41 AM

Battaglia does it all in Willowbrook win

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Dom Battaglia's job description on the football field is a lengthy one.

"A little punt, wideout, running back, quarterback, safety," was how Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth described his senior, "and he's been that way for three years now."

Wherever he touched the ball Friday, Battaglia made a big play.

Battaglia's second interception set up his go-ahead touchdown on fourth-and-goal, then he clinched a 29-27 Warriors win over host Downers Grove South with a 48-yard run on a fake punt in the game's final minute.

Willowbrook's first win over Downers Grove South since 2006 makes the Warriors (5-1, 3-0 West Suburban Gold) playoff eligible. It's a stunning turnaround for a program that went 0-9 last year. Friday's result also knocked Downers Grove South (1-5, 1-2), a Class 8A quarterfinalist last year, out of playoff contention.

"I'm speechless -- this is a great win," Battaglia said. "We haven't beaten them in such a long time. Now we just want to make the playoffs."

A see-saw affair had the two teams trade the lead four times, starting with Alec Arvanitakis' 4-yard touchdown run with 1:04 left in the first half that gave Downers Grove South a 20-17 lead after trailing 17-7.

Brian Johnson, 20 of 30 for 211 yards for Willowbrook, connected with Jeremy Kucik for a 21-yard scoring strike and 23-20 lead with 1:39 left in the third quarter. Downers Grove South answered, Mike Zebold finding wide-open tight end Luke Lathrop for a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-23 a minute into the final quarter.

The Mustangs got the ball back midway through the fourth quarter, but on third down Battaglia picked off a tipped pass, setting up Willowbrook at the Downers Grove South 39.

An illegal block brought back a Johnson touchdown pass, but later in the drive a Downers Grove South pass interference call on third-and-goal kept Willowbrook's drive alive.

Battaglia was stuffed on third down from the 1, but after a timeout he took a direct snap from center and surged in for the score.

"We don't have anything except for a victory formation that's under center," Hildreth said. "Instead of that exchange we were just going to get it right in his hands and go from there."

Willowbrook got the ball back after a Downers Grove South drive stalled, but the Warriors were faced with fourth-and-2 at midfield. Battaglia, a rugby-style punter, took off around right end 48 yards to ice the win. Hildreth said it's a read play where Battaglia can punt or run, and he went for broke.

"I was running outside on the punt and my receiver told me to come on," Battalgia said. "I was going to kick it and I trusted him when he told me to come on, and I went."

Jeremy Barnes gained 177 yards on 27 carries with 2 touchdowns for Willowbrook, which can guarantee a playoff berth with one more win. The Warriors won despite missing on two point-after conversions, losing a fumble and giving up two wide-open touchdown passes on defensive breakdowns.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Hildreth said. "Again, it was a struggle. But the kids continued to battle, didn't drop their heads, continued to fight through and it worked out for us."

Zebold was 15 of 26 for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also ran in a score, but he also had 3 interceptions. Downers Grove South as a team turned it over four times. Javon Turner caught a 42-yard touchdown pass and blocked an extra point.

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