Downers Grove North efficient against Downers Grove South
Downers Grove North had the football for three plays in the second quarter.
One play to start the third quarter changed all that.
Trojans quarterback Drew Cassens scored twice in the second half to help his team rally for Friday's 14-7 West Suburban Conference crossover victory at rival Downers Grove South.
With five wins apiece, it's likely that both sides of Downers Grove will be in the playoff field when the pairings are announced Saturday night. That hasn't happened since 2013.
"Grinding out a 14-7 win like that, it really means the world to us," said Cassens, DuPage County's rushing leader who ran for 106 yards. "First half was a struggle offensively. Defense kept us in the game. Then we all brought it together to secure the win."
The senior's first touchdown came on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, a 64-yard keeper up the middle like he was shot out of a cannon. The second score -- after the teams traded four punts and a fumble -- was a 1-yard dive with four minutes, 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter to cap an 8-play, 75-yard drive.
It was a drastic change from the first half when the Trojans (5-4) ran a total of 10 plays compared to 31 for Downers South (5-4).
"We just stuck together as a team," said Downers North linebacker Drew Bielawski. "We have some really tough guys with good character. I know defensively we had one goal and that was to hit harder than them, and we did that very well tonight."
Downers South dominated possession in the first half and took a 7-0 first-quarter lead on a 6-yard pass from Cole Warehime, who ran for 42 yards and threw for 73, to Eli Reed.
That 10-play drive paled in comparison to the 16-play, 11-minute drive that ate nearly the entire second quarter. The Mustangs amazingly only went from their own 40 to the Trojans' 40 while converting three fourth downs but suffering three crucial penalties.
After all that work Downers South had to punt and only led 7-0 at the half.
"We knew it was going to be a great game, but Downers North is a good team and congrats to them," said Mustangs coach Mark Molinari. "I think we'll make the playoffs. A loss is disappointing, but we're excited about that."
Downers North managed 24 total yards and 1 first down in the first half. The Trojans piled up 189 second-half rushing yards, with Josh Lumpkin finishing with 94.
"I'm just proud of our kids," said Trojans coach Joe Horeni. "To respond the way we did on the first play of the second half with the touchdown, that really got the momentum for us."