Batavia tops South Elgin in battle of unbeatens
Something had to give when high-powered South Elgin traveled to stingy Batavia Friday night -- and not just because both teams entered with perfect 6-0 records.
The Storm can put points on the board with the best of them, averaging 40 a game. Batavia excels at stopping its opponents from scoring, allowing just 3 points per game with 4 shutouts in 6 games.
Defense won out on a wet night at Bulldog Stadium. Batavia held the Storm to 11 first downs and 152 yards of offense in a 10-7 Upstate Eight Conference crossover victory.
"I feel we have a championship-caliber defense, week in and week out," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "It's very hard to score on us."
Defensive lineman Ethan Towers had a sack and helped apply the constant pressure on star Storm quarterback Nate Gomez all night. Gomez finished with 38 yards rushing on 21 attempts and threw for 102 yards on 11 of 20 passing with 2 interceptions.
"He's a good quarterback, very shifty," Towers said. "We kept him contained in the box and every time he tried to set his feet he really couldn't. We wanted to take their No. 1 player out of the game.
"It was an all-together really good game for us. Our defense is playing phenomenal. Our defense flies around, hits kids, destroys kids, has a really good time doing it."
South Elgin's defense also was up to the task. They were on the field nearly the entire first quarter but held Batavia twice on fourth down inside their own 27-yard line to keep the game scoreless.
Batavia (7-0) got on the board late in the first half. Art Taylor capped an 11-play, 67-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Jack Carlson added the point after for a 7-0 lead with 3:28 left in the first half.
Batavia converted a pair of short third downs on the drive while South Elgin often found itself in third and longs much of the night.
"We really struggled to stay on schedule," Storm coach Pat Pistorio said. "We found ourselves in a variety of bizarre downs and distances."
Batavia nearly shot itself in the foot just before halftime. The Bulldogs tried a hook-and-ladder deep in their own territory but fumbled. South Elgin took over at Batavia's 26 with :16 left.
Gomez threw into the end zone twice; Tom Stuttle intercepted the second attempt on the final play of the first half.
Carlson gave Batavia a two-score lead with a 23-yard field goal with 9:55 left in the fourth quarter. That proved to be a big kick when Gomez threw a 6-yard pass to Pierre Toussaint with 2:58 remaining. Gomez set up the touchdown with a 36-yard pass to Jaron Wells on a controversial catch that Batavia thought it had intercepted.
The Storm followed with an onside kick but couldn't recover it. The Bulldogs picked up two first downs to run out the clock, the second one on another controversial call when the Storm felt they stuffed quarterback Riley Cooper on a fourth-and-1 sneak with 1:07 left.
"I thought we had it at the end," Pistorio said of the stop. "I know earlier in the game there were some issues with the chains. We can't rely on everything to go our way, especially on the road. We'll learn from it and improve."
Cooper completed 11 of 16 passes for 97 yards; Jeremiah Evers led a balanced rushing attack with 58 yards on 14 carries.
"We have had to grind out first downs to win a game," Piron said. "That was the goal there. Get two first downs and we win. Really proud of the way we finished."
Batavia wraps up the regular season with a pair of road games: against Larkin in Week 8 and at St. Charles North in Week 9.
"They are so tall, they are rangy, they are long," Pistorio said of Batavia's defense. "They really create some major matchup problems for a lot of teams. They really gave us a hard time today."
South Elgin (6-1) has pair of home games remaining -- a nonconference matchup against Cary-Grove in Week 8, and an Upstate Eight Valley finale against East Aurora in Week 9.