Glenbard West secures win over Downers Grove North in final minute
When Glenbard West got the football back with just over a minute left, Jason Thomas had a feeling his team was going to score the game-winning touchdown.
He then went out and made sure that feeling became reality.
The senior running back's 1-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds remaining gave the visiting Hilltoppers a 13-10 victory over Downers Grove North on Friday in a hard-fought West Suburban Silver matchup.
"I knew with that much time left, we'd get it in," said Thomas, who rushed for 53 yards and a pair of TDs on 10 carries. "Everybody did their jobs and everything was clicking. I can't put into words how proud of the guys I am.
"It all started with last week; we had a tough loss at home (12-10 to York). The seniors challenged the younger guys, that it starts with practice and all of the guys took it to heart and we had our best week of practice all year. We started slow tonight, but we flipped that switch. I'm proud of the way we bounced back."
Glenbard West's (6-1, 3-1) final drive started at the Trojans' 35-yard line after the home team was stopped on a fourth-and-1 run play that would have sealed the win for Downers Grove North (4-3, 1-3) and made it playoff eligible.
A 21-yard run by Thomas followed by a 9-yard scamper by Joey Pope set up the game-winning score.
"We are a physical defense and there is no quit in us," said Pope, who ran for 99 yards on 14 carries while also playing safety. "Even when we face adversity -- I had a fumble that almost cost us the game -- we have no quit in us as a team.
"(The Trojans) are a great team and they had no quit in them either. We knew we had to bounce back as a team and get a big win. This is what we needed."
The Trojans had taken a 10-7 lead on a 28-yard scoring run from Noah Battle midway through the third quarter. The defense then made three big stands in a row, with Khalil Copeland and Brooks Johnson notching interceptions and Alexander Kartsounes recovering a fumble.
Battle finished with 76 yards on 15 rushes. Ethan Thulin caught seven passes for 64 yards, quarterback Sam Reichert completed 12 of 16 passes for 102 yards and Sean Ryniec kicked a 23-yard field goal.
"It was a great job, I'm proud of the kids," Downers Grove North coach Joe Horeni said. "They did an unbelievable job hanging with a team ranked super-high in the state, especially coming off a tough game against Hinsdale Central. It was a tough game, our kids fought hard."
Filip Maciorowski hauled in five receptions for 72 yards for Glenbard West, all of which came in the second half. His 27-yard catch on a fourth-and-16 play led to the Hilltoppers' first points of the game, a 7-yard TD run by Thomas with 7:12 left in the third quarter.
Jackson Tomaro had an interception to seal the win and quarterback Korey Tai passed for 76 yards and ran for 30.
"This was a nice win," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. "Downers is still fighting for that fifth win, they played their tails off. They played extremely hard. They beat us up front most of the game and they played extremely physical.
"We had that huge defensive stand. It was a gutsy call by them (going for it), but I would have done the same thing. For our team, we were in a dogfight last week and we lost at the end. We were in a dogfight this week and we pull it out. So we are growing. Overall I'm super happy for the West Suburban Silver conference, there is a lot of good football being played."