Glenbard West turns the tide against Downers Grove North
Downers Grove North looked to be building some momentum. Driving inside Glenbard West territory in the third quarter, the Trojans looked to trim the three-score deficit.
The Hilltoppers' Kyle Dell killed the Trojans' momentum with one dive.
Dell leapt forward, catching the football just inches off the ground, giving Glenbard West the ball back. The Hilltoppers marched down the field, pulling further away from the Trojans en route to a 35-14 West Suburban Silver win at Downers Grove North.
"It was second down, they were (close to) the red zone," Dell said. "It was a big turnover so we could get our explosive offense out on the field."
Dell made up for some mistakes earlier in the year with his turnover.
"I dropped a couple before that," Dell said with a laugh. "I made up for it on that one."
On the ensuing drive the Hilltoppers drove 73 yards in 7 plays. Alex Hollensbe ended the drive when he connected with Alec Pierce on a 19-yard touchdown pass.
"We want to get our offense out on the field as quickly as we can," Dell said. "Turnovers are our main purpose. We want to always rip out the ball, always get picks. Turnovers are key."
The Hilltoppers (4-1, 2-0) stepped away from their traditional ground-and-pound offense -- a bit. Glenbard West rushed for 227 yards but passed for 160 yards and Hollensbe threw for 3 touchdowns.
"We were just going to take what the defense was giving us," Pierce said. "(If they're) expecting run, we're running play action; vice versa, if they're expecting pass, we're just going to keep running the ball."
It worked on the Hilltoppers' first possession of the game.
Facing a fourth-and-10 from the Trojans 40, Hollensbe connected with Ryan Diver, who was running a go route down the right side.
"It's a big play," Pierce said. "Cover 3 versus four verticals, one guy should be open, especially their misaligned corner."
The Hilltoppers stopped the Trojans on their first two offensive drives. On Glenbard West's second drive, the Hilltoppers started with the ball on their own 20. They marched it 23 yards and then Hollensbe connected with Diver for a 57-yard touchdown pass.
"We made some good plays," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. "It was a good balance."
The Trojans made sure to hit back. On the ensuing drive Downers Grove North drove the ball 80 yards on 13 plays, capped off by a 17-yard touchdown reception by Jordan Byers.
"I though we could do some things offensively," Downers Grove North coach John Wander said. "I thought we could score 21 to 28 points, if we ever had field position. But when they get the ball on the 20 and go 80 (yards), we never got it going."
And the Hilltoppers hit back before the end of the half. Glenbard West had a four-plus-minute drive, driving the ball 75 yards, as Dre Thomas scored from a yard out to give them a 21-7 lead before the half.
Thomas finished with 96 yards on 12 carries and 2 touchdowns.
"It was important," Pierce said. "You want to have a two-score lead going into half."