West Aurora holds off Bartlett

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

Much is asked of West Aurora Big Ten recruit Denver Warren.

The junior delivered mightily in the Blackhawks' deceptively misleading 27-12 victory over Bartlett in Upstate Eight Conference football action Friday in Aurora.

Bartlett, after dominating third-quarter ball possession, was lining up for a chip-shot field goal as the Blackhawks' tenuous 2-point lead hung in the balance early in the fourth quarter.

But Warren, a nose guard who has verbally committed to Michigan, blocked the 24-yard attempt.

"I just knew they couldn't get any points there," Warren said. "I got my hand up. That hand got the block."

West Aurora (4-1 overall and in the league) then moved 94 yards as Isaiah Lowery, who replaced starting tailback Hezzy Slaughter after the latter was injured on the second play of the drive, capped the march with four minutes and seven seconds to play.

The Blackhawks' rushing efficiency was the central difference-maker in the game.

Outgaining Bartlett 279-51 on the ground, West Aurora iced the game as JaQuan Buchanan, who led all players with 121 yards rushing on 12 carries, scored from 2 yards out in the closing seconds.

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The Blackhawks' prowess on the ground was badly needed as costly penalties would certainly have been their primary undoing had Bartlett rallied from a two-score first-quarter deficit.

Late in the first quarter, Buchanan had a 76-yard touchdown run negated by one of a dozen West Aurora first-half infractions.

"Once we got rid of the 15-yard penalties, we were able to get back into our offense," said Buchanan. "We were playing into their hands with all the penalties."

Bartlett (3-2, 3-2) stormed back after the long run was nullified, awaking from a sluggish offense start to score touchdowns on back-to-back drives late in the second quarter.

Jonah O'Brien, who completed of 22 of 36 pass attempts for a game-high 243 yards for Bartlett, connected with Mathew Young from 36 yards out.

O'Brien then called his own number from 5 yards away to bring the Hawks to within 14-12.


But that would be the West Aurora advantage not only at halftime but also early in the fourth quarter as both Bartlett conversion attempts -- a conventional kick and run attempt -- failed.

"We started playing more physical," Bartlett coach Matt Erlenbaugh said. "(The Warren block) was huge."

"That's a young football team," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said of Bartlett. "They are getting better every week."

Salter and Buchanan had respective scoring runs of 33 and 24 yards on the Blackhawks' first and third possessions of the opening quarter to take an early 14-0 lead.

"We had a good week of practice," Buchanan said.

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