Takeaways give WW South a boost
Wheaton Warrenville South linebacker Tommy Barnett knows the importance of forcing an early turnover.
"It's huge, just a really great start to the game," Barnett said. "Our team always tries to come out fast and physical and suck the wind right out of them, (then) just cruise the rest of the way."
That's exactly what Barnett and the Tigers did Friday night at Lake Park, forcing 5 turnovers en route to a 27-7 DuKane Conference victory in Roselle.
Barnett led the way with 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery, all in the first quarter. He intercepted Lake Park on the fourth play of the game, which led to Jack Olsen's 25-yard field goal.
Two plays later, Barnett recovered a fumble at the Lancers' 31-yard line, but the Tigers (5-2, 3-2) couldn't capitalize.
Lake Park's third possession ended when Barnett picked off a screen pass.
"Three turnovers in a row was kind of crazy," Barnett said. "On the first pick I was just in the right spot and I got it.
"We got the field goal, we came back out. I was just playing my game and then all of a sudden, I see the ball on the ground on a fumble. I just went for it and got the ball. Then the next play I just read the screen and got another pick."
It was the first time Barnett had forced 3 turnovers in a game, let alone one quarter. But WW South coach Ron Muhitch wasn't shocked at the performance.
"Barnett had a great game," Muhitch said. "That's the kind of play I've been waiting to see from him.
"I like him in space. He's a really good outside linebacker. That's the perfect spot for him, rover, and we finally faced a team that threw the ball on the perimeter. That was the main thing."
Barnett's takeaways were important because the Lancers (2-5, 1-4) hung tight into the third quarter. They took a 7-3 lead on Curry's 25-yard touchdown pass to Nico Romano midway through the second quarter.
But the Tigers answered right back as Parker Brown rolled to his right and tossed a 45-yard touchdown strike to Matt Cochran.
It was the first of three touchdown passes for the unheralded Brown, who completed 12 of 20 throws for 129 yards. The first-year starter is gaining confidence thanks in part to an invigorated running game that produced 159 yards against the Lancers.
Oh, the stout defense helps, too.
"For sure, the defense making stops helps the offense big-time," Brown said. "If we go three-and-out, we know that we can get the ball back right away and go score."
That's exactly what happened after Brown's first TD pass. Ben Burger recovered a fumble at the Lake Park 44 and Olsen made a 49-yard field goal as time expired to give the Tigers a 13-7 halftime lead.
The Tigers then pulled away in the second half as Brown tossed TD passes Kaleb Clousing and Prince Lankah. Jake Arthurs carried 15 times for 102 yards while Lankah added 60 yards on 10 rushes.