Needing to overcome adversity for the first time this season and to withstand an opponent that was literally within inches of taking the lead late in the contest, West Aurora found a way to get things done with a 26-20 victory over Glenbard East in an Upstate Eight Valley Division game Friday night in Aurora.
The visiting Rams, so close to getting their first win of the season, came up short, but also moved the ball up and down the field and showed there's more than a little life left as the season reaches its midpoint.
In a taut fourth quarter in which neither team scored, the contest came down to a series of downs late in the game with Glenbard East (0-4, 0-2) driving to the West Aurora 1-yard line. Then a botched snap moved the Rams to the 20 and the drive stalled at the 13.
West Aurora (4-0, 2-0) failed to run out the clock, fumbling the ball back to Glenbard East two plays later. Ezra Cavanaugh intercepted his second pass of the game to end that final threat.
"I thought Glenbard East was great tonight," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said. "If you look back at the seven times we've played them when I've been here, I don't think we've ever played a game that was decided by more than a score or two."
West Aurora's rushing offense was dominant throughout the game, accounting for 248 of the team's 331 offensive yards. Trevon Tittle led the way with 113 yards on 10 carries and 1 touchdown. JaQuan Buchanan added 3 TDs on his 12-carry, 70-yard night.
"We came out and faced a lot of adversity, which was good," Buchanan said. "I think we can go back in to practice and this game will help us get better."
West Aurora's running game was balanced with eight different backs carrying the ball. Late in the game, Hezekiah Salter added a pair of key rushes for 35 yards while Cameron Moore chipped in 32 yards on 3 carries.
"We pride ourselves on being able to run the ball and coming out every week with that aggressiveness," Buchanan said. "The O-line and other running backs were really blocking for me, just as they were blocking for everybody today."
When the game stood in the balance, West Aurora's defense made plays and the offense closed the contest and moved into its most difficult stretch of the season undefeated. The Blackhawks play South Elgin (4-0) and Huntley (3-1) in the next two weeks.
"We battled some adversity, which we needed to do and I'm pretty proud of the guys for hanging on tonight," Eimer said.
Glenbard East's offense was in many ways the polar opposite of West Aurora's, relying on the passing of Jared Rech, who threw 44 times, completed 27 for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns.
"I want everyone to know how proud I am of our kids," Glenbard East coach John Walters said. "We were 0-3 coming in here, but we've put up a couple of fights. This team has grown, kept together and kept going. You saw it tonight. That's a good football team we played and we were just a couple of plays from coming out on the front end of it."