Glenbard North's defense looks a world better than it did at the beginning of the football season.
Justin Jackson, meanwhile, just keeps being Justin Jackson.
The combination added up to a 23-0 victory over Naperville Central in Friday's DuPage Valley Conference matchup in Carol Stream.
Jackson's 71-yard fourth-quarter touchdown burst capped a 271-yard night on 38 carries, and the defense notched its first shutout of the season against its toughest DVC opponent thus far. Glenbard North (5-1, 4-0) led only 10-0 at halftime but looked in complete control after allowing only 38 yards and 2 first downs.
"Our defensive line played great tonight putting pressure on the quarterback," said Panthers linebacker Alex Smith, who forced a fumble on a sack and had an interception. "Our linebackers filled when they had to. We just played an overall great game."
By game's end Naperville Central (3-3, 3-1) managed 166 total yards while turning the ball over twice. Quarterback Jake Kolbe, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 143 yards, was sacked five times.
Without the ability to consistently move the ball -- the Redhawks had 23 rushing yards -- Naperville Central reached the red zone only once, on a drive that ended on downs at the 8-yard line. In the second half Glenbard North held three times on fourth down.
"Against a team like that our offense has to be on the field, and we've got to make more plays offensively," said Redhawks coach Mike Stine. "We didn't play very well offensively tonight. There were some plays out there and we just didn't execute them tonight."
Glenbard North set the tone early by forcing a punt on the Redhawks' first possession and then marching 80 yards in 12 plays. Jackson rushed for 53 yards and quarterback Brian Murphy capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on a bootleg.
Hector Ortiz boosted the halftime lead to 10-0 with a 30-yard field goal. After exchanging interceptions, Glenbard North scored on another 12-play drive keyed by Murphy's 5-yard fourth-and-3 pass to Ryan Storto. Jackson scored the first of his 2 touchdowns on a 3-yard run to make it 16-0 late in the third quarter.
"This is a great stepping stone for us," said Jackson, who now has 1,300 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. "We wanted to get this one to get a feel for the tougher part of our DVC schedule."
Naperville Central possessed the ball for nearly all of the fourth quarter but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. Receiver Lasoda Thompson had 5 of his 7 catches in the fourth quarter, finishing with 46 receiving yards.
"Our defense played phenomenal," said Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens. "From Week 1 to now it's not the same defense by any means. Rushing the passer, stopping the run, playing the pass. All three phases did an outstanding job tonight."
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