There may be no better way to clinch a playoff berth.
Naperville North's football team will play in the postseason for the first time since 2013 thanks to Friday's 50-31 DuPage Valley Conference cross-town victory over Naperville Central at North Central College. It's the Huskies' first win over the Redhawks since 2012.
"With this offense we're really explosive," said Naperville North running back Cross Robinson. "It's the best night to finally show that we can do it. We've been trying to do it all season but we haven't been clicking to our fullest capacity. But tonight we did it."
The Huskies (6-1, 5-1), who reached 50 points for the first time in three years, broke out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and never trailed. That doesn't mean things didn't get interesting.
The Redhawks (3-4, 3-3) pulled within 36-31 with 7:02 left in the game when A.J. Deinhart, who had 27 carries for 222 yards, scored on a 2-yard run. A three-and-out gave the ball back to Naperville Central, but a Redhawks fumble and recovery by Kiser Floyd gave the ball back to the Huskies.
On the next play from scrimmage, Robinson went 50 yards for a touchdown and a 43-31 lead. Three Naperville Central plays later, Huskies defensive back Grant Ericksen snared an interception. Three plays after that, running back Eric Wright burst into the end zone from 2 yards out to put Naperville North's lead at 50-31 with 2:13 left.
Even though the Huskies surrendered 31 points and nearly 400 yards, the defense came up big when it needed with 2 fourth-quarter turnovers and a fourth-down stop deep in Naperville North territory.
"We had to come out firing," said Huskies defensive lineman Malik Wells. "You can't think about the last play. You just have to keep thinking about that next play, and the next play. We did that and we were able to come up with the big plays we needed."
Robinson and Wright took turns coming up with big plays, While Robinson had 11 carries for 122 yards and 3 touchdowns, Wright had 17 carries for 166 yards and 3 scores.
"Against a good football team you can't turn it over like we did," said Redhawks coach Mike Stine, whose team must win its last two games to become playoff eligible. "That's a good football team. Give them the credit. They came out and won the game."
Redhawks quarterback Pat Ryan threw a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes to Josh Ruiz. Naperville North quarterback Luke Cegles threw a 73-yard touchdown to Nick Calcagno, and also caught a 36-yard pass from Ryan Laurenzo.
"We had some explosive plays and that's what we were looking for," said Huskies coach Sean Drendel. "We're excited to be in the playoffs, but with our kids it's not about getting in the playoffs. They want to make some noise in the playoffs."
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