New label, same intensity as Waubonsie Valley beats Neuqua Valley
To the catalog of famous oxymorons that is headlined by "jumbo shrimp," you can now add "nonconference game" when it involves the Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley football teams.
The DuPage Valley Conference's new five-team configuration mandated that the District 204 rivals meet twice this season -- with Friday's game in Aurora defined as a nonconference tilt -- but there was no lack of intensity. The Warriors came away with a slam-bang 17-10 victory.
"I said there was no way this was a nonconference game because every rivalry game is intense," said Waubonsie coach Paul Murphy. "We're all fighting to get wins because 'Ws' are at a premium with the schedule we have."
As it has been all season, the Warriors defense was the tone-setter all night, limiting the Wildcats (1-2) to 149 total yards with Elijah Smith intercepting two passes and forcing a fumble that teammate Ryan Mutz recovered. Linebacker Carson O'Donnell chipped in with two sacks of Neuqua quarterback Mark Gronowski and spent most of his night in the opponent's backfield.
"It's all about finding the weakness on the offensive line and putting pressure on the quarterback, and when we get pressure on the quarterback, we get interceptions," O'Donnell said. "We saw their formations and we knew what they'd try to be doing; it's all about film study and preparation."
"They kept coming hard off the edges," Neuqua coach Bill Ellinghaus said. "We thought we could get under them, but sometime they'd beat us to the spot and we'd take a loss."
While the Warriors (3-0) were forcing four Neuqua punts and recording two turnovers in the first half, the offense put two scores on the scoreboard. The first score came courtesy of Cross Holmes' 38-yard field goal on a drive in which Bryce Logan carried 6 times for 45 yards.
Then the Warriors turned Smith's first interception at the Neuqua 10-yard line into Logan's 2-yard TD run. The lead was only 10-2 at the break, though, as Neuqua's Ben Musielewicz blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety with two minutes left in the half.
Neuqua knotted the score late in the third quarter on a 10-play, 64-yard drive that chewed up nearly seven minutes and featured a combined 6 penalties between the teams (they had a total of 21 for the night), the most critical one a pass interference foul in the end zone that set up Will Chevalier's 5-yard sweep, which he followed with a 2-point run to knot the game at 10.
The Warriors, however, answered right back with a 10-play, 75-yard drive of their own that was finished off on Jack Drow's 23-yard touchdown toss to Myles Pettaway.
"We bit on the run and they went over the top; they really executed well on that play," Ellinghaus said.
The Wildcats had one last chance to tie it up, but O'Donnell's second sack of Gronowski knocked them back and the closest they could get in the closing seconds was the Waubonsie 30, where a six-lateral final play fell short.