When all else failed, Naperville North went back to its bruising best.
DeSean Brown's 2-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal late in the third quarter broke up a scoreless game, and Naperville North went on to beat Thornton 14-0 in a mistake-filled contest on Friday in Naperville.
The two teams combined for 22 penalties and 5 turnovers, and Naperville North (1-1) missed two field-goal attempts to keep the game scoreless. Starting with its first scoring drive, though, the Huskies went straight power -- running the football on all but one play the rest of the way.
"Coach was like, 'We can power run at them all game,'" said Brown, who ran for 132 yards on 23 carries with 2 scores. "I wasn't really happy about it at first, but as soon as we got into it I could see what he was trying to do."
Naperville North (1-1) ran the ball on every offensive play in last year's win over Thornton but attempted 13 passes Friday. The game in doubt, the Huskies went back to their roots. Brown's 24-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left in the game all but wrapped up a win in the defensive struggle.
"We tried to pass early, but we just could not quite get anything going," Huskies coach Sean Drendel said. "We had to go to our power running game, rely on some young kids up front and they did a great job."
The Huskies had field-goal attempts of 36 and 37 yards hook left earlier in the game. After a touchdown pass from Chris Gacjak was called back on a penalty, Naperville North faced a fourth and goal.
No indecision there. Gacjak took the shotgun snap and gave it to Brown, who powered through the middle with 1:21 left to cap off a 13-play drive that featured 12 runs.
"We were down there four or five times before and didn't get anything," Drendel said. "We were going for it."
After giving up 34 points in a loss to Neuqua Valley Week 1, the Huskies' defense was stout against a fast opponent.
Naperville North allowed just 176 yards of total offense, forced 3 turnovers and sacked Thornton quarterback Jo Wahn Brown 4 times.
"We definitely set the edge well and didn't let them get outside," said DeSean Brown, who had 3 tackles. "When they came through the middle we hit them hard so they couldn't come again. Offense really struggled to punch it in the end zone, but we just kept telling the defense to do their job and we'd get one in."
Jo Wahn Brown was 17 of 23 for 118 yards for Thornton (1-1) and ran for 31 yards. The Wildcats' best chance to score came the last drive of the first half, when Brown was 5 of 5 to guide Thornton to the Naperville North 20. But he was sacked on the final play of the half.
"It was a good defensive ballgame most of the night," Thornton coach Bill Mosel said. "We just left our defense on the field too much."
Sharad Crosby ran for 53 yards and Leon Hardy 37 for Naperville North, which gets a much-needed first win as it faces trips to Glenbard North and Wheaton North the next two weeks.
"With the DVC coming up you take any win you can get," Drendel said. "As a group we played really well defensively. It ended up being a rock 'em, sock'em football game."