Moreno, Neuqua Valley pick up the pace against Glenbard North
He wasn't exactly happy about it, but a halftime deficit excited Neuqua Valley running back Armani Moreno, much to the chagrin of Glenbard North.
The robust junior, who carries 215 pounds along with the football, broke down the Panthers defense to the tune of 17 rushes, 105 yards and 2 touchdowns in the second half.
Moreno, who had just 5 carries for 17 yards in the first half, led the visiting Wildcats as they scored 20 unanswered points to earn the 27-10 nonconference win Friday in Carol Stream.
"I was just more excited in the second half," Moreno said. "We were down. I said, 'I gotta go hard this half. I gotta go -- run harder, be faster, just gotta go."
It wasn't just Moreno's legs that did the job. His instincts helped out too.
Up 20-10, Neuqua Valley tried to put the game away in the fourth quarter. But on a key third down, the Wildcats fumbled.
Instead of a gamechanger, it was a game-clincher, as Moreno scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 30 yards to the end zone to seal his team's win.
"I was just watching (the play) and the ball hit the ground," he said. "I had to go get it and then had to make one defender miss."
The sledding wasn't so easy in the first half, when the Wildcats offense was quarterback Mark Gronowski making plays.
Plus, Glenbard North kept Moreno and company off the field with its two-headed rushing attack of Jordan McQuarters and Cordell Smiley. The duo combined for 21 carries and 115 yards in the first half.
The Panthers scored first when Michael Vazquez hit Angleo Cusumano for a 7-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter.
Gronowski answered with a 15-yard scoring scamper on the ensuing possession.
A late first-half field goal were the final points for Glenbard North, which never really threatened in the second half.
"(Wildcats defensive tackle Jeremiah Robertson) did a heck of a job inside," Panthers coach Ryan Wilken said. "They stopped our running game. They were efficient on offense where we weren't."
Neuqua Valley wasted little time in the second half, scoring on its first possession with a 10-play drive that ate up five minutes.
Gronowski capped the drive with his second rushing touchdown of the day, a 26-yard sprint up the gut and through the heart of the Panthers defense.
On the Wildcats next drive, Moreno leaped over his lineman across the goal line for a score and a 20-10 lead.
Glenbard North never crossed midfield in the second half.
It was the 11th straight loss for Glenbard North, which went winless in 2018.