Big 4th quarter lifts Batavia over St. Charles North
Batavia caught a tough break early and it took the Bulldogs almost the whole game to recover.
They finally did when Art Taylor scored with 62 seconds left and the Bulldogs edged St. Charles North, 27-26, in a DuKane Conference thriller in St. Charles.
Taylor, who finished with 125 rushing yards, scored 3 fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Bulldogs overcame a 20-7 deficit.
"During halftime my teammates just had a good conversation, all positive vibes, and we talked about what we needed to work on," Taylor said. "When the second half started, we got to it."
Things started poorly for the Bulldogs with a fumble on the game's second play that Ryan Thiesse scooped up and returned 80 yards for a touchdown.
Batavia coach Dennis Piron contended that the runner was down before the ball came out, but the call stood and the Bulldogs were in an early hole.
The hole got a lot bigger as North Stars tailback Nick DeMarco ran 9 and 48 yards for scores in the second quarter to put the hosts up 20-0.
Batavia finally got on the board with 35 seconds left in the second quarter, giving them some momentum going into halftime. Quarterback Kyle Oroni engineered a 60-yard drive in less than 2 minutes following DeMarco's second touchdown. He capped the drive by taking it over himself.
After a scoreless third quarter, the teams traded TDs to start the fourth. After DeMarco's third score of the game made it 26-14, Taylor returned the kickoff all the way to the St. Charles North 18-yard line, and three plays later he took it in from 3 yards out.
The Bulldogs' defense forced a 3-and-out and the offense went back to work with a 12-play drive that ended when Oroni pump-faked downfield, then spun and handed the ball to Taylor circling behind him. Taylor had nothing but daylight on the way to the end zone. Jackson Williams' extra point put the Bulldogs ahead for the first time in the game.
"We put in that play in week 1, but we haven't run it," said Oroni. "We saved it for a day like this. It's really like a Statue of Liberty play that you run in backyard football."
Piron said the players never thought about giving up.
"The kids don't know any better," he said. "I don't know if they hate losing, but I just love the fact they continued to execute. And the execution comes around and we started to gain a little bit of steam, and things started to fall our way."
"I think it's really down to our O-line and running backs, Art Taylor with the big return gave us time to make those drives," Oroni said. "And our O-line completely dominated in that fourth quarter."
The North Stars had one last chance to win. Quarterback Sammy DeDobbelaere completed three passes to get the home team to the Batavia 31, but four straight passes fell incomplete, with Sam Barus knocking the ball away on fourth down.
For most of the game, DeMarco did everything for the North Stars, running out of the wildcat formation. He finished with 153 yards and the 3 scores, and also completed a couple of passes for 34 yards.