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updated: 9/1/2013 12:44 AM

Batavia bests Glenbard North again

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By Dave Heun
Daily Herald Correspondent

It's not likely his coaches would make the same wish Batavia wide receiver Michael Moffatt had after the Bulldogs opened their football season Saturday night by holding off a Glenbard North rally to lock down a 29-26 non-conference victory.

"I wish we could play them all of the time, they are so good," said Moffatt, whose circus catch for a 45-yard touchdown was a key play in a 22-point third quarter that ultimately lifted the host Bulldogs past a Glenbard North team in the top five of most area rankings.

Batavia needed all of those third-quarter points to outlast the Panthers, who had enjoyed a 12-7 halftime lead behind a dynamic first half by 2012 Gatorade player-of-the-year running back Justin Jackson, who had 193 yards in 16 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown jaunt, in the first two quarters alone.

Glenbard North sputtered badly in the third quarter before making Batavia fans sweat a bit with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. The game wasn't in the bag until Noah Frazier and Josh Leonard sacked Panther quarterback Brett Gasiorowski on a fourth-and-12 play at the Batavia 36-yard line with just under two minutes left.

"I felt very confident coming into this game tonight," said Batavia coach Dennis Piron, who watched his team outlast the Panthers in the season opener last year 42-41.

"What a great measuring stick for our program," Piron added. "We feel if we can play that caliber of a game against a team like that, we should be able to do it against anybody. "We just have to keep improving every week."

If Batavia improves from one half to the next the way it did Saturday night, another 9-0 season would certainly not be a pipe dream.

But Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens knows his team didn't help its own cause, committing 13 penalties for 155 yards, muffing two punt attempts, failing on extra point tries three times and missing open receivers.

"We have to execute better," Wilkens said. "There were guys open we should have hit, but in the second half, Gasiorowski let that go, didn't hang his head, and he played a good second half."

Wilkens said his staff will address the penalty woes with the team. "There's some silver linings with this game, but nevertheless we lost and that's our biggest concern."

When Jackson (23 carries, 231 yards) shot through the right side of the line for his 75-yard touchdown run to open the scoring in the second quarter, Batavia came right back to take a 7-6 lead when quarterback Micah Coffey (10-for-21, 128 yards, two touchdowns) found wideout Jordan Zwart for a 24-yard score.

Glenbard North closed the half with its 12-7 lead when Gasiorowski connected with Kendall Holbert on a 20-yard slant into the end zone.

But Batavia owned the third quarter as its defense stiffened and also forced the Panthers into special teams mistakes. Anthony Scaccia (18 carries, 81 yards) bulled over from a yard out to start the scoring parade, which continued with Moffatt's dandy catch.

Just as he was being pounded to the ground, Coffey tossed a bomb to Moffatt, who snatched it with one hand and secured it off the back of a Panther defender and raced in for the touchdown.

"Moffatt has unbelievable hands," Coffey said. "I got hit and was on the ground and didn't even see it, but I am lucky to have playmakers like him."

Moffatt knew the defender's back was in the right place at the right time.

"I caught it with one-hand and then pulled it in off his back," Moffatt said.

"I had to make a big play for the team right there and had to pull that one down."

The play completely switched the game's momentum, which continued Batavia's way on a mishandled punt play by Glenbard North. Batavia took over inside the Glenbard North 30-yard line and Anthony Thielk finished off the short drive with a 4-yard touchdown run and 29-12 lead.

Gasiorowski (16 of 32, 207 yards) got hot in the fourth quarter, completing a 36-yard touchdown pass to Holbert and a 9-yard scoring strike that was tipped twice before falling into John Bosco's hands.

After Glenbard North recovered an onside kick at the 50-yard line, the Batavia defense stood tall after Gasiorowski got a first down on a 16-yard scramble. The Bulldogs finished off the game by sacking Gasiorowski twice and forcing two incompletions.

"Everyone stayed in Batavia tonight to see this game," Piron said, referring to Labor Day weekend and the fact the game was rescheduled because of Friday storms.

"Thank you, Batavia," said Piron, who had the same message for his players after the game.

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