Naperville Central enjoys win in cross-town opener

 
 
Updated 9/8/2018 1:17 AM
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  • Naperville North quarterback Clifford Vickers is stopped by several Naperville Central players, including Matthew Oliver, Matthew Ranieri and Sean Key in a football game Friday at Central High School.

      Naperville North quarterback Clifford Vickers is stopped by several Naperville Central players, including Matthew Oliver, Matthew Ranieri and Sean Key in a football game Friday at Central High School. John Starks | Staff Photographer

See you in three weeks.

It wasn't on minds immediately after Naperville Central's 35-7 nonconference victory over visiting Naperville North on Friday, but they'll be playing football again before you know it.

For one night, though, the Redhawks -- playing Naperville North at home for the first time since the 2000 playoffs -- enjoyed an immensely crisp offensive performance and the defense's best effort of the season. They closed with 28 straight points to pick up their first win of the season.

It couldn't have come at a better time against a cross-town rival that moved the ball well between the 20s but couldn't finish drives.

Redhawks quarterback Payton Thorne, committed to Western Michigan, completed 16 of 22 passes for 270 yards, 4 touchdowns to three receivers and no interceptions. Running back Danny Hughes had his best game of the young season, rushing for 165 yards on 25 carries.

"It's a luxury to have receivers like that running routes," Thorne said. "During pregame and all week we talked about no turnovers. We turned it over way too much the first two weeks. We knew we could put up points and rack up yards, but if we don't turn the ball over we know we're going to be in a lot better shape."

The teams traded touchdowns to start the game. Thorne threw a 20-yard strike to Sam Jackson, only to be answered by Matt Maschmeier's 58-yard scoring run on a reverse pitch for the Huskies.

Three plays later Thorne connected with Jared Suchevits on a 36-yard touchdown pass.

In the second quarter the Huskies (0-3) unleashed a 26-play, 91-yard drive that ate up 10 minutes of clock. On fourth down at the Redhawks' 7, however, Naperville Central held to take its 14-7 lead to halftime.

"That's probably the play of the game," said Huskies coach Sean Drendel. "If we score right before half it could have been different, but it is what it is. We just didn't make enough plays."

In the second half Naperville Central's defense held again at its 10 and its 25 to keep the Huskies from rallying. Naperville North running backs Ameir Wilbourn and Elijah Jordan combined for 138 rushing yards.

Thorne added touchdown passes of 46 and 5 yards to Cade McDonald, who snared 8 catches for 146 yards.

Friday was a confidence-builder for the Redhawks, who fell to Hinsdale Central and top-ranked Lincoln-Way East the first two weeks.

The Huskies, meanwhile, have plenty of motivation for the Week 6 DuPage Valley Conference rematch at North Central College.

"We had three extra stands here so it was just extremely hyped and loud," Hughes said of the home atmosphere. "It was pretty unreal here."

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