Glenbard East savors a winning flavor
Through five weeks, Anthony Shockey and the Glenbard East football team had gotten small samplings of what it took to win a football game.
But for all the appetizers they had, they hadn't gotten the full meal.
"We were looking for (it)," Shockey said.
On Friday night, on homecoming, the Rams finally feasted. The Rams made consecutive defensive stops in the fourth quarter to hold on to a 35-25 Upstate Valley Eight win over East Aurora.
"We finally got the taste in our mouth," Shockey said with a smile.
The first win of the season was just as important for coach John Walters as it was for the Rams (1-5, 1-2).
"They got a taste of what it's like to win," Walters said. "We haven't gotten a taste. Everybody goes into the season with a whole kettle. Sometimes you get a cup, sometimes you get a bowl -- we were just looking for a spoonful, a taste."
Penalties proved to be the bugaboo for East Aurora (0-6, 0-3). The Tomcats committed 14 penalties for 153 yards.
"We were our own worst enemy," East Aurora coach Kurt Becker said. "We couldn't sustain drives because of holding calls. The kids fought hard and we overcame a lot of adversity, but we just kept hurting ourselves."
None stung the Tomcats more than a personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter.
With 7:44 left to play and trailing 35-25, Jereye Stevenson broke down the middle for a 59-yard touchdown -- only to see the play nullified.
"That one hurt," Becker said. "That last touchdown we scored, we're back in the game."
At the time, the Tomcats seemed undeterred by the play. They marched the ball down to the Rams 17.
Then, Shockley came up with the play of the game. On second and 10, Orlando Garcia's pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and Shockey dove and caught the ball at his own 9.
"It was my second try," Shockey said. "It was really big and fourth quarter, so I really appreciated it."
In the first half the Rams' offense was balanced and clicking. Glenbard East ran for 100 yards and threw for 138.
"We were for sure (on) all cylinders," quarterback Bret Bushka said. "The wide receivers came up big and we had great protection."
Bushka finished with 208 passing yards and 3 touchdowns and 101 yards rushing and another touchdown.
Defensively, the Rams flipped the switch at halftime. After allowing 265 yards in the first half, Glenbard East limited East Aurora to 79 yards, forced a turnover a punt and a turnover on downs on the Tomcats' final three possessions.
"We learned that we needed to stop their runs a lot more," defensive lineman James McNicholas said. "It feels great to get this win."