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Daily Herald's 2016 Season Coverage
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updated: 10/29/2016 7:04 AM

Defensive gem propels Rolling Meadows

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  • Rolling Meadows' Justin Masters sends Thornwood's DeMaris Williams flying on this incomplete pass play in the first half Friday at Meadows.

      Rolling Meadows' Justin Masters sends Thornwood's DeMaris Williams flying on this incomplete pass play in the first half Friday at Meadows.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rolling Meadows' Asher O'Hara keeps the ball for short yardage in the first quarter against Thornwood.

      Rolling Meadows' Asher O'Hara keeps the ball for short yardage in the first quarter against Thornwood.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rolling Meadow's Devonte Amos runs for yardage as Thornwood's Dion Alexander pulls him down in the first half Friday at Meadows.

      Rolling Meadow's Devonte Amos runs for yardage as Thornwood's Dion Alexander pulls him down in the first half Friday at Meadows.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rolling Meadows' Willis Goodwin reaches for the end zone despite pressure from Thornwood's Ryan Edwards on Friday. Goodwin lost control of the ball, but it was recovered by his teammate Marco Taibi for a touchdown.

      Rolling Meadows' Willis Goodwin reaches for the end zone despite pressure from Thornwood's Ryan Edwards on Friday. Goodwin lost control of the ball, but it was recovered by his teammate Marco Taibi for a touchdown.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Rolling Meadows' Nick Delporte runs for yardage in the first quarter despite pressure from Thornwood's Bre Love in the first round of the Class 7A football playoffs at Meadows.

      Rolling Meadows' Nick Delporte runs for yardage in the first quarter despite pressure from Thornwood's Bre Love in the first round of the Class 7A football playoffs at Meadows.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent

Defensive coaches on the high school level do their best to prepare their teams for battle.

Throughout the decades though, one thing has not changed: Defensive football players have to play on instinct and toughness.

And Rolling Meadows' defense put on another clinic in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs by clipping the visiting Thornwood Thunderbirds 44-12.

"Defense is still guts football," said Mustangs linebacker Marco Perez. "It takes a lot to go out there and play as a team. For us it's 'team before teammate, and teammate before me.' That's what live by.

"I really think we did our job on defense. We have a three-second rule of getting to the quarterback. We made him scramble some tonight."

Rolling Meadows (10-0) intercepted two passes, recovered a fumble and blocked a punt. All the Thornwood (5-5) miscues led to touchdowns as the Mustangs rolled to a 44-0 lead at halftime.

"They didn't look that fast on film," said Thornwood coach Billy Budd, 'but they were really fast in person. The took away our outside game and funneled everything inside. Against a team like this you can't make mistakes like this in a playoff game."

The Mustang defense which has allowed 7.6 point per game in 10 games held the Thunderbird ground game to minus-1 yard. Thornwood did pass for 167 yards, with most coming in the second half under a running clock.

"Our team speed on defense was real good tonight," said Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler. "We had to put pressure on their quarterback and force him to run. We countered their speed with our speed."

The Mustangs, who travel to Lincoln-Way Central next weekend, scored on all of their first-half possessions.

Nick Delporte scored the Mustangs' first touchdown on a 8-yard run with 6:55 left in the first quarter to cap a 12-play, 59-yard drive for an 8-0 lead following Devonte Amos' 2-point conversion run.

A fumble recovery by Justin Thompson set up Amos' 15-yard score and another 2-point run with 3:56 left in the initial quarter for a 16-0 lead.

"That first drive of ours set the tone," said Mishler. "Once we were up two scores we were able to open things up."

Quarterback Asher O'Hara (9-for-12, 110 yards) went to work, hitting Marco Taibi with a 3-yard pass just into the second quarter and a 23-0 lead.

A blocked punt by the Mustangs' Matt Zieba set up Amos' second touchdown, a 2-yard run with 8:32 left in the first half.

Delporte set up O'Hara's 13-yard pass to Willis Goodwin in the end zone -- a tackle jarred the ball loose, but Taibi recovered the ball before it went out of bounds for a 37-0 lead.

O'Hara, who rushed 6 times for 52 yards, scored from the 12 with :42 left in the half for a 44-0 lead.

"This was great, playing at home before our crowd," said Delporte. "We really hope to keep playing meaningful games in November. We knew that they were quick to the outside, but we played a great defense game and we stayed home in our positions. This all happened after the Maine West game. We're really playing for each other."

Rolling Meadows finished with 282 yards of offense and no turnovers.

Thornwood quarterback Jamar Howard (12-for-27, 168 yards, 2 interceptions) threw touchdown passes of 15 yards to Jaleel Mason and 5 yards to DeMaris Williams.

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