Batavia runs over Wheaton Warrenville South
Batavia banked on smashmouth football to pull away from visiting Wheaton Warrenville South in the second half of Friday's 41-20 DuKane Conference victory.
Batavia (5-0, 3-0) saw a 14-point lead trimmed to 14-13 before halftime. The top-ranked team in Class 7A responded by running the ball right at Wheaton Warrenville South (4-1, 2-1) in the second half.
The Bulldogs scored on each of their first three drives after halftime by running the ball exclusively. The three soring marches combined covered 175 yards in 23 running plays. Each culminated in a touchdown run by junior Quinn Urwiler. He finished with 78 yards and 4 touchdowns on 16 carries.
"I wasn't expecting to run that much, but it was fun," Urwiler said. "Four touchdowns? That's crazy. I never would have thought that I'd be scoring. The blocking was tremendous. It opened up lanes like a semi could go through."
Overall, Batavia outgained Wheaton Warrenville South 466 total yards to 261. The defending Class 7A state champions ran the ball 53 times for 364 yards in the homecoming victory.
Michael Jansey had 8 carries for 121 yards and Trey Urwiler contributed 64 yards on 12 carries. They picked up the slack for starting running back Artavious Taylor, who did not play in the second half after gaining 50 yards on 9 first-half carries.
"They've got three or four kids they can give the football to and they just pound it at you," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch said. "I think if you look at the Tigers, we're a little short and a little slight in terms of body weight. But they took it to us tonight. Credit to them."
The Tigers didn't have much luck running against the Batavia defense, which limited them to 20 rushing yards in 16 attempts. Instead, they threw the ball. Senior quarterback Noah Henkel completed 20 of 34 attempts for 241 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Jason Haw.
Batavia outgained the Tigers 203 yards to 87 in the first half, but one big play kept Wheaton in the game. Leading 14-0, Batavia threw a lateral screen pass that was dropped by the receiver for a fumble. Cedric Rowzee scooped up the loose ball and raced 63 yards for a momentum-changing touchdown.
Said Rowzee of the play: "When I saw it I was like 'Oh, yeah. I'm going to the house. That's house."
The Tigers pulled within 14-13 when Henkel connected with Haw on a 19-yard slant with 3:20 left in the first half. However, Nick Conger blocked the extra point to keep Batavia in the lead.
A combination of factors led Batavia to turn to its heavy package regularly after halftime, most notably, a steady wind, the formations the Tigers showed on defense and the injury to Taylor.
"A couple of those guys, Quinn and Michael and (Luke) Weerts, said 'Hey, coach, just put it on our backs," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "We have some fun stuff that we can do and we're going to enjoy doing it.' They really wanted to play a physical game and that's what we're kind of about this year. We're very physical and fast."
Batavia quarterback Jack Meyers completed 8 of 14 attempts for 102 yards and a 15-yard touchdown to Weerts. He also ran for 46 yards and a score.