It was a good night to be a running team. It was a bad night to play Lake Zurich's defense.
Both ideas worked against Wheaton North on Saturday night in Wheaton.
Top-seeded Lake Zurich overcame a driving rain, 30 mph winds howling over the south goalposts and Wheaton North for a hard-fought 16-6 victory in a Class 7A quarterfinal. The Bears visit Glenbard West in next Saturday's semifinal.
"Defensively, I think we played the way we have all year," Lake Zurich senior defensive back/running back Sean Lynch said. "We were fast to the ball and it worked out for us."
In weather made for Bears, Lake Zurich held Wheaton North's Northwestern-bound quarterback to just 33 yards rushing and 87 through the air.
"We just wanted to keep him in the pocket, because he's deadly with his legs," Lake Zurich's Syracuse-bound linebacker Colton Moskal said of Thorson. "Keep him in the pocket and make him throw."
"It's true, a night like this does not help our offense," Falcons coach Joe Wardynski added. "Obviously, both teams have to play in it, but we're a team that's probably a throw-first team and they're a run-first team. The rain is one thing, the wind is another thing.
"It did make it difficult, but Lake Zurich, you've got to give them the credit. They made the plays of offense when they needed to and kept drives going. They had a couple of big plays on a big run and a big pass, and they did some very good things. They deserved to win the game."
The Bears (11-1) scored first on Dylan Schassler's 32-yard run for a 6-0 second-quarter lead, then finished the half with a 37-yard field goal from A.J. Trittschuh with 11.2 seconds to go.
"They're tough," Lynch said. "They're big up front and they've got some big 'backers too, but I think it was just a testament to our offensive line. They worked their butts off and they were able to get to the second level and open up some holes for us."
Meanwhile, the Bears' defense was giving Wheaton North's high-powered offense fits, holding it to just 2 first-half first downs and 57 yards of offense.
The third quarter started with more of the same. After the wind stopped a short Wheaton North punt at the Falcons' 48-yard line, the Bears struck for their final touchdown on a 48-yard Noah Allgood touchdown pass to Ben Klett and a 16-0 lead.
"Noah's done a great job for us all year," Lynch said of Allgood. "He's put in the time in the off-season and it's really working dividends this year for him. He had a great game today not only passing the ball but taking snaps. That's a hard job in this weather, and it's overlooked."
Fifth-seeded Wheaton North (9-3) took advantage of a Lake Zurich fumble, recovered by Tristan Jones at the Lake Zurich 29. The Falcons drove to the Lake Zurich 1, where it faced fourth-and-goal on the seventh play of the drive. Quarterback Clayton Thorson bootlegged left and found tight end Jake Heggeland for a touchdown pass, cutting the margin to 10 points.
But even with the wind at their backs in the fourth quarter, the Falcons couldn't get much going against the Bears defense, which picked off three Wheaton North passes in the fourth quarter.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz