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Even Hector Ortiz — future hero — hoped for a Glenbard North touchdown.
Not that the Panthers' junior kicker was looking to avoid a pressure-cooking attempt at a game-winning field goal Friday. He just figured the less drama the better.
No such luck. Ortiz calmly nailed a 35-yard field goal in the waning seconds to give Glenbard North a stunning 17-15 win over previously unbeaten Wheaton North in Carol Stream.
Often on the wrong side of field goals through the years, Glenbard North's dramatic boot from Ortiz gives the Panthers (7-1, 6-0) a guaranteed share of their first DuPage Valley Conference title since 1991. A Week 9 victory over Naperville North would give the Panthers the outright title.
"I was hoping they would score the touchdown, but when it came down to it I knew it was going to be up to me," said Ortiz, who felt redemption after missing a key field goal in last week's overtime win against Wheaton Warrenville South. "It felt forever. It was the slowest kick I've ever done. When I saw it go in it was just a huge relief."
Trailing 14-0 until late in the third quarter, Wheaton North (7-1, 5-1) pulled within 14-13 with 2:50 left in the game when Johnny Peltz hit Matt Biegalski for a 72-yard touchdown pass. The Falcons took a 15-14 lead when Peltz hit Patrick Sharp on the 2-point pass.
Glenbard North started the game-winning drive at its 23-yard line with 2:33 left. Quarterback Brian Murphy was masterful working the Panthers down the field, beginning the march with a 24-yard pass to Justin Jackson, who rushed for 143 yards, and scampering twice for 18 yards.
Penalties and a sack by Wheaton North's J.D. Marconi pushed the Panthers to a third-and-32 at Wheaton North's 33-yard line. Murphy found Ryan Storto on a huge 17-yard pass to set up the game-winning field goal by Ortiz.
"We weren't going to do it all on one play, we wanted to work our way down the field," said Murphy, who threw for 190 yards, including 4 catches for 131 yards by Storto. "We're the first team to do this in a while, but we don't want to share this conference title with Wheaton North. We want to go out and beat Naperville North and we want it to all be ours."
Glenbard North scored late in the first quarter, a 57-yard bomb from Murphy to Storto, and early in the third quarter on a 58-yard touchdown run by Jackson. Wheaton North narrowed the deficit to 14-7 late in the third quarter on a nifty 36-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Clayton Thorson.
Peltz threw for 163 yards for the Falcons, while Sharp rushed for 70.
"I don't feel too bad about what we did tonight," said Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski. "The kids are very disappointed because they knew tonight was probably for the conference. I told them no matter what happens tonight, this game is going to help us."
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