St. Francis races to big lead, beats Wheaton Academy
St. Francis senior defensive Tyler Duzansky waited a long time for a highlight-reel scoring play.
Maybe that's why Duzansky's premature celebration caused such a minor stir on Friday night.
The Spartans scored two defensive touchdowns in a one-minute span in the first quarter to fuel a dominating 44-14 victory over Wheaton Academy in Metro Suburban Blue play in West Chicago.
The Spartans' defense paved the way for the surprising blowout, scoring two touchdowns, picking up a safety, recording four sacks and allowing just 120 yards in the first half to build a 37-0 lead. The Spartans (2-0, 2-0) scored 28 points in the first quarter.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Duzansky sparked the defensive effort, tipping a pass, catching it and scoring on an 11-yard interception return for a touchdown. Duzansky, though, couldn't wait to reach the end zone before celebrating, raising his free hand up in the air well before reaching the goal-line to signify his touchdown. An elite long snapper committed to Penn State, Duzansky said he cherished his defensive TD.
"Our coaching staff did a great job of getting us ready for every game," he said. "On that play, I was reading the keys, saw the screen play and able to dive under and go get it. One of our goals this week was to get a defensive touchdown, so we all went crazy once we got that. That was a big accomplishment for us to get a defensive touchdown.
"That was my first time (ever) scoring a defensive touchdown. The defense did a great job after coming off last week's shutout."
Less than a minute later, senior defensive back Elijah Lee joined the pick-six party by jumping a route near the sidelines and racing 33 yards for an interception return for a touchdown.
"I was watching film all week and learning their route combinations and paying attention how they line up really helped us out a lot with our defense," Lee said. "Everyone was screaming at me that the play was coming to me. I saw their receiver did a quick stop, and next thing you know I was in the end zone."
St. Francis quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse, an Illinois State recruit, spread the ball to a number of targets to keep Wheaton Academy's defense off balanced. Rittenhouse finished 13-of-22 for 209 yards passing and a touchdown and added a 10-yard rushing touchdown.
"We wanted to attack early," Rittenhouse said. "The defense did a great job getting stops early. We just got momentum right off the bat from the pick-six. We knew we had to get them early, and that's what we focused on."
Wheaton Academy (1-1, 1-1) junior quarterback David Dorn had a gutsy effort against St. Francis' hard-charging defensive line. Dorn passed for 179 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score, but the Warriors couldn't duplicate the magic from last week's stunning fourth-quarter comeback win over Bishop McNamara.
"Wheaton Academy is a good football team and showed last week they can make plays and comeback, so we didn't want to let our foot off the gas," St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. "Dorn is a very good quarterback, but our defense played well. I'm excited how we played."