Downers Grove North makes itself at home at St. Francis
For Downers Grove North to make consecutive trips to the playoffs, the Trojans are going to have to be road warriors.
They were certainly up to the task on Friday night.
Its first of six games as the visiting team this regular season, the Trojans used a late Noah Battle touchdown to defeat defending Class 4A semifinalist St. Francis 27-22 in Wheaton.
Battle scored on a 4-yard run with 1:03 remaining, capping off an 8-play, 53-yard drive. It was the senior's second rushing touchdown of the game as he finished with 58 yards on 14 carries.
"I think it feels better when you beat a team in front of their home fans," Battle said. "The odds are against you (when you are on the road). So it feels good.
"We came out to win this game and we did it. That was an amazing game, St. Francis is an amazing team. I was cramping in the fourth quarter but I had to suck it up. We all knew we had to get the ball in the end zone (on the final drive) to win the game and we executed. We had visualized that all week."
Owen Thulin sealed the victory with an interception, his second of the game. Antonios Kollintzas also picked off a pass.
"We knew they had athletes," Thulin said. "They have four stud receivers, a stud running back, a stud quarterback. We knew it was going to be tough coming into it. We just fought. That was fun."
Jameson Ordway gave the Trojans a 7-6 advantage with a 60-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. After St. Francis later tied the score at 14-apiece, Downers North retook the lead heading into halftime on a 2-yard TD pass from Owen Lansu to Charlie Cruse.
Making his first varsity start under center, the sophomore Lansu completed 12 of 22 passes for 94 yards while rushing for another 28 yards. Thulin also caught 6 passes for 44 yards.
"St. Francis is a very good football team," said Trojans coach Joe Horeni, whose team went 7-4 a year ago. "They have great coaches, they have a great team. They are playing with 38 players and are doing a heck of a job. I'm really proud of our kids. We had a lot of young kids step up."
St. Francis surged ahead 22-21 with 2:45 left on a 30-yard scamper and subsequent 2-point run by TyVonn Ransom, who gained 116 yards on 19 attempts. Quarterback Alessio Milivojevic also tossed a pair of touchdown passes, completing 23-of-32 attempts for 212 yards. Dario Milivojevic hauled in a 29-yard score and Zachary Washington added a 23-yard touchdown.
"I thought we did a good job coming back," St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. "TyVonn had an unbelievable football game. But we obviously had some mistakes, you can't give up a kickoff return for a touchdown.
"I thought our offensive line played well but we have to score more than 22 points in order to be successful."