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If given the choice, Wheaton North's football team would have played Naperville North last Saturday.
It took a full week of waiting, but the Falcons finally managed to release some frustration with Friday's 31-13 DuPage Valley Conference victory over visiting Naperville North.
Bouncing back from a tough loss to cross-town rival Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North (3-1, 1-1) played what coach Joe Wardynski called his team's most complete game of the season. The defense snagged 4 interceptions and came up with several big stops while the offense piled up 476 yards of total offense.
"We were dying to get back out here," said Falcons defensive back Billy Buhle, whose 22-yard interception return for a touchdown tied the game in the first quarter and turned the momentum. "We couldn't wait. We just wanted to show everybody that our defense was ready to play."
Naperville North (1-3, 0-2) certainly looked ready to play as DeSean Brown opened the game with an 87-yard kick return for a touchdown. The teams traded touchdowns until just before the half when Wheaton North running back Dom Garza's 4-yard scoring run put the Falcons ahead 21-13 at the break.
Wheaton North added Dee Alexander's 7-yard scoring run midway through the third quarter and Nick Cairo's 24-yard field goal early in the fourth to extend the advantage to 31-13 with nine minutes left in the game.
"We defended the pass pretty well, we defended the run pretty well," Wardynski said. "And we were able to run the ball and keep them off-balance a little bit. I thought that was big."
And Northwestern-bound quarterback Clayton Thorson — playing in front of his future college coach, Pat Fitzgerald — was Clayton Thorson. He completed 23 of 36 passes for 277 yards and rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Garza rushed for 96 yards to lead a Falcons ground game that piled up 200 yards.
In addition to the four interceptions, Naperville North squandered several opportunities with penalties and other miscues. Two first-and-goal chances in the second half slipped away with no points put on the board.
Brown's 1-yard touchdown run pulled the Huskies within 14-13 late in the first half. Brown and Leon Hardy combined for 130 rushing yards while quarterbacks Connor Johannes and Chris Gajcak combined for 157 passing yards.
"You could make every excuse, we just didn't perform tonight," said Naperville North coach Sean Drendel. "A couple bad snaps, a couple penalties. It's frustrating as can be, and I keep telling our kids 'please believe we're close.' But we haven't been able to do it. And until you can do it, it doesn't really matter."
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