Glenbard East shines in UEC victory over West Aurora
Clinging to a 4-point lead with less than two minutes to play, Glenbard East senior cornerback Mashar Lewis walked up to his defensive mates and promised them he would be walking away from Friday night's game against West Aurora with some jewelry.
Lewis assured them he'd grab an interception, seal the win and wear the team's "Turnover Chain."
"I was like, I got to get this pick," Lewis said.
He went through on his promise. Lewis snatched an interception with 1:28 giving the Rams the ball back and closing Glenbard East's 17-13 win in Upstate Eight Conference action. It gives Glenbard East its first 4-0 start since 1967.
In the postgame huddle Lewis wore the team's turnover chain with pride.
"I called it," Lewis said with a smile. "When I caught the ball, the shock hit me instantly."
It was the second time Glenbard East's defense came through in the fourth quarter.
West Aurora (3-1, 3-1) had a first down at the Glenbard East 38, but the Rams forced a fumble. The Blackhawks wouldn't get past their own 37-yard line after that play.
Glenbard East's defense came through in the first half, too.
With a 13-10 lead late in the first half, West Aurora had a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line. Dee Spivey scampered down the left side and was stopped inside the 1-yard line.
"The probability of scoring a touchdown from the 1-yard line has got to be pretty high, right? I'm not into analytics or numbers, but the cards aren't in our favor," Glenbard East coach John Walters said.
But Glenbard East's defense went against the odds.
On second down Trevo Tittle was stopped by the Ram defense at the line of scrimmage. Then JaQuan Buchanan was stopped at the 1-yard line. On fourth down the Blackhawks again turned to Tittle, who was stopped at the 3-yard line, forcing an important turnover on downs for the Rams.
"We knew they were going to give it to (Tittle) because he's their biggest player," Lewis said. "We know their plays. We just got to get down, get dirty and be ready and we did that and stopped them every time."
It gave Glenbard East all the momentum it needed going into halftime.
"That's awesome," senior quarterback Bret Bushka said. "That means we got to come out (in the second half) and we got to get their back."
Bushka and the Rams offense did that.
Glenbard East started the second half at its 28-yard line and marched it to the West Aurora 22-yard line. On first down Bushka scrambled out of the pocket down the right side for an 8-yard pickup. Facing a second-and-2, Bushka dropped back again to pass, the pocket collapsed on him and he scampered out of trouble, sprinted down the right side and dove past a West Aurora defender to score and make it 17-13. It was Bushka's second touchdown run of the night, the first a 2-yard dive in the first quarter.
"The play got blown up and I was just trying to get a couple of yards out of it," Bushka said. "That just (comes) from experience playing."
Bushka's ability to create a play caused fits for the Blackhawks defense all night. The senior finished with 68 yards rushing and was 20-of-30 passing for 232 yards.
"(Bushka) stayed on his feet and made some plays," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said. "He was tough and the crazy thing is, we still held them to 17 points."
And Lewis and the Glenbard East defense made big plays when it needed them.
"If I get the chance to catch it, I'm going to catch it," Lewis said. "There's no swatting. No swatting."