Nine years of bad memories came crashing down Friday night at Wheaton North.
For the first time since 2002, the Falcons beat Glenbard North. The 27-17 victory also gave Wheaton North a share of the DuPage Valley Conference title for the first time since that same season.
To clinch the outright DVC title, the Falcons (7-1, 6-0) must win at Wheaton Warrenville South (5-3, 5-1) next week. The last time they beat the Tigers was, you guessed it, 2002.
"I'm just happy for the school," said Falcons coach Joe Wardynski. "You hear all the time about, 'You haven't beaten these guys, you haven't beaten those guys.' At least for Glenbard North for this year we can put that one behind us."
The game's first four minutes fueled Wheaton North's victory. Luke Sahly snared an interception in Panthers territory on their first possession, setting up Marin Gawlak's 30-yard field goal. Jaylen Howze recovered a fumble on Glenbard North's second possession, leading to a short field and a 9-yard touchdown pass from Falcons quarterback John Peltz to Micah Penn that boosted the lead to 10-0.
"We're giving probably the most potent team in the conference offensively a short field twice within a matter of (four) minutes," said Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens, whose team committed 4 turnovers. "It's not a great way to start a football game."
Glenbard North's Trevor Hackett booted a 39-yard field goal, countered by Gawlak's 27-yarder to put the halftime score at 13-3. Peltz, who threw for 122 yards and rushed for 33, gave the Falcons a 20-3 advantage with a 1-yard run early in the third quarter before Glenbard North (5-3, 3-3) rallied.
The Panthers' comeback began with a 2-yard scoring run by Phil Jackson, who rushed for 109 yards on 21 carries, in the final minute of the third quarter. A three-and-out by Wheaton North turned the momentum even more in the Panthers' favor.
They blasted Wheaton North with seven straight runs by Phil and Justin Jackson, who added 59 of the team's 248 rushing yards. Justin Jackson capped the drive with a 14-yard scoring run that narrowed the gap to 20-17 with 8:40 left in the game.
Glenbard North's defense forced another three-and-out, but Wheaton North's defense responded by stopping the Panthers' fake punt pass a yard short on a fourth-and-8 at midfield.
Three plays later Wheaton North stretched the margin out of reach when Peltz hit Penn for a 50-yard touchdown strike that made it 27-17 with 5:03 left.
Panthers quarterback Brian Murphy, who's been hampered by ankle injuries the past few weeks, left the game with an ankle injury on Glenbard North's next possession.
Murphy ran for 70 yards while Falcons leading rusher Patrick Sharp had 78 yards on 15 carries.
"We haven't beaten them in (nine) years, so this is huge," Peltz said. "That was our motivation all week, and we took that into this game."