Batavia's defense has shown itself to be a forced to be reckoned with eight quarters into the season.
Defense led the Bulldogs to a 24-10 nonconference victory over Libertyville at Bulldog Stadium Friday night. Senior defensive back Tom Stuttle had 2 interceptions and Batavia outgained the Wildcats 297 total yards to 169.
The only touchdown for the Wildcats came 1:11 left in the fourth quarter as Jack Henry Turco was ruled to have caught a 38-yard touchdown by out-wrestling Batavia defensive back John Golden on a dual possession. Otherwise, Libertyville was limited to a first-half field goal by Matt Rudophi.
The performance comes on the heels of last week's 21-0 win over Lemont, like Libertyville, a 2016 playoff team.
"We knew they had a really strong running back and a really good offensive line, but we closed it up front and made their quarterback get pressured," Stuttle said. "They threw it up in the air and our (defensive backs) were able to get picks"
"Really, two great games by our defense," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "A little fade there right at the end, but about eight quarters and three points is pretty doggone good."
Batavia (2-0) held Libertyville (1-1) to 23 rushing yards, all by senior running back Brendan Bazar on 15 carries. The Wildcats completed 16 of 31 passes for 169 yards, but 99 of that came in the second half trailing by 2 touchdowns.
"We didn't execute and it started early, first series," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "But, yeah, they're quality, no doubt about it. They play downhill, put a lot of people on the line of scrimmage and we didn't handle it as well as we wanted to.
"Some of it had to do with assignments. I don't know, we just didn't get it going offensively running the ball, which is kind of disappointing. Obviously, it puts more pressure on throwing the ball. If we have to throw the ball that much, we're not going to be that effective."
The game was tied 3-3 when Batavia struck just before halftime. Running back Reggie Phillips rushed for a 4-yard touchdown with 22 seconds left in the second quarter to cap a 57-yard, 12-play drive.
The Bulldogs struck again early in the third quarter, taking the first possession 62 yards in 11 plays. Quarterback Riley Cooper found Stuttle, a two-way player, for a 7-yard touchdown reception on third down. Cooper completed 16 of 22 attempts for 158 yards and no interceptions.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 24-3 with 9:32 left in the third quarter with a big fourth down play. Facing fourth-and-3 from the Libertyville 38-yard line, Cooper spotted tight end Colin Richter beyond the safety and hit him in stride for his second touchdown pass of the night.
The defense did the rest.
"I feel like we truly dominated," Batavia defensive back Michael Niemiec said. "That's one of coach's famous words that he likes to use. We just took control of the game."