Glenbard North running back Justin Jackson had a one-word self-assessment of his performance early in Friday's game at Wheaton North: horrible.
By the end of the game, however, he produced a much different universal assessment: awesome.
Led by Jackson's 43 carries for 354 yards and 4 touchdowns, Glenbard North claimed its second straight outright DuPage Valley Conference title with a 33-13 win over Wheaton North.
Jackson -- who fumbled on the Panthers' first three possessions, resulting in two turnovers -- also twice intercepted future Northwestern teammate Clayton Thorson in the end zone. It was definitely a full night for the senior, who has rushed for 2,550 yards and 33 touchdowns on the season, including 1,108 yards and 12 scores the last three weeks.
"I've never had that much adversity at the beginning of a game," Jackson said. "It shows how much my team has grown to be able to back me up. Our defense let up zero points even with my three fumbles."
Glenbard North (8-1, 7-0) held twice after Jackson's turnovers and, thanks to Jackson's first interception, held again when the Falcons (7-2, 5-2) had first-and-goal at the 7 late in the first quarter.
The Panthers, who next season will enter DVC play with a 15-game winning streak, took a 12-0 lead to the half on a pair of second-quarter Jackson touchdown runs.
Wheaton North responded with its best drive of the night coming out of halftime. The Falcons marched 76 yards in 17 plays, converting two third downs and two fourth downs while eating more than six minutes off the clock. On fourth-and-goal, Thorson scored from a yard out to narrow the deficit to 12-7.
As close as they were, though, the Falcons knew they'd left too many points on the field in the first half. And Jackson was just getting started.
"You've got to take care of the football and capitalize on opportunities when you get in the red zone, and we didn't do that," said Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski. "If we're going to do anything in the playoffs we've got to be an opportunistic offense."
Two more Jackson touchdown runs extended Glenbard North's lead to 26-7 early in the fourth quarter. After Thorson, who completed 16 of 29 passes for 182 yards, threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jack Kirschbaum, Glenbard North freshman Vittorio Tricase wrapped up the night's scoring with a 2-yard run.
"It feels good to go back-to-back with this group of players," said Panthers receiver and defensive back Kendall Holbert. "We held a lot of good teams to low scores. I'm proud of our team."
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