Glenbard East expected West Aurora to run the football often Friday night. The Blackhawks didn't disappoint.
Senior running back DaVion Cross scored 3 touchdowns, and the Blackhawks left Lombard with a 26-7 Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division victory.
"They're made to run," Rams coach John Walters said. "The Cross kid is the real deal. Make no mistake about it, he was the fastest kid on the field tonight. He showed that at times. When he gets to the open field, there's not a lot of kids that are going to catch him."
The Blackhawks, playing their third- and fourth-string quarterbacks due to injuries to Nos. 1 and 2, attempted only five passes, with four going incomplete and one for an interception, all of them in the first half. The running game made the passing game unnecessary the rest of the way.
"We struggled a little bit throwing the ball tonight, so that's kind of what we went to," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said. "We'd like to have a little more balance than what we had tonight, but at the end of the day you just try to win and move on every week."
The victory moved West Aurora to 4-0 on the season, 2-0 in conference games.
"Huge," Eimer said of remaining undefeated. "We're going into homecoming playing South Elgin. That's the class of the conference. It couldn't be bigger. The biggest thing we've got to do is we've got to keep our intensity up."
Glenbard East scored the first time it touched the ball, turning a Blackhawks fumble into a 22-yard touchdown pass to junior Keonta Nixon from sophomore quarterback Bret Bushka.
"Isn't that what you want to do when you create a turnover?" Walters asked rhetorically. "You create a turnover and then you complete a big play like that. ... We just weren't able to get any momentum on offense."
The Rams (0-4, 0-2) threatened only once more, reaching the West Aurora 1-yard line on the last play of the third quarter while trailing 20-7. But West Aurora's defense made the goal-line stand to start the fourth.
"I think it's the game," Eimer said. "We score, go up, we have a lot of momentum, and hat's off to Glenbard East. That was a great drive. Great catch on the sideline (a 23-yard reception near midfield by the Rams' Gino Dalesandro). That was a heck of a catch. And then our kids, four times in a row. And I told the kids it's all about effort. I couldn't be more proud of them."
"I think it was the difference in the game," Walters added. "...It's tough. It's deflating to your offense to not get in, it's deflating to your defense. They've got to go back out. It was a big series for them. Credit to them, they made the stops when they had to."