Barna helps Wheaton North pull away from St. Charles East
Wheaton North turned a pair of St. Charles East turnovers into first-quarter touchdowns, then came up with another key defensive stop late in the first half that resulted in a late score while building a 21-7 halftime lead.
The Falcons (3-1, 2-0) put the game away with a pair of second-half touchdowns on their way to a 35-14 DuKane Conference triumph over the Saints (1-3, 1-1) Friday night in St. Charles.
"We had kids in the right position, and they made plays," Falcons coach Joe Wardynski said of his team forcing 2 early Saints turnovers.
Printess Wynn's interception and return to the Saints' 16-yard line helped set up Walker Owens' 3-yard touchdown run, giving the Falcons a 7-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.
On the Saints' next possession, 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior defensive lineman Joe Barna sacked quarterback Mac Paul (12-of-24, 114 yards) and forced a fumble that was recovered by John Tarpeh near the 30-yard line.
Four plays later, Barna, who plays tight end on offense, made a shoestring catch of a pass from quarterback Max Howser, and rumbled 23 yards into the end zone for a touchdown that increased the Falcons' lead to 14-0.
"I don't get the ball a lot but when I do, I make the most of it," said Barna, who collected a pair of sacks in addition to the TD reception. "It was really fun."
"That was a great catch because the ball was underthrown a bit," said Wardynski. "He had to go get it off the shoestrings there and bring it in. Plus, it was a 4th-down play (4th-and-3).
"It was a good effort by him on both sides of the ball tonight."
The Saints answered with an 11-play, 69-yard drive, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run from Brandon Swartz, to trim the deficit to 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Following a defensive stop, the Saints took over at their own 30 and marched deep within the Falcons' 10 before linebacker Nick Sanguinetti's sack of Paul on a 4th-and-8 play halted the drive.
"That was huge," said Wardynski. "They had us backed up -- they put a nice drive together. They did a lot of good things against us tonight. It showed that we need to improve in quite a few areas."
Howser (10-of-15, 200 yards, 2 TDs) connected with Matt Kuczaj (3 catches, 74 yards) on a 40-yard pass before tossing a 20-yard TD pass to Rich Schilling (5 catches, 95 yards), as the Falcons upped their lead to 21-7 with 1:16 left before halftime.
"We talked all week that we were going to be super aggressive -- we were going to go for it this week," Saints coach Nolan Possley said of the decision to forego a possible field goal attempt late in the first half.
Owens scored his second TD of the night on a 1-yard run, and Howser's 14-yard TD run extended the lead to 35-7.
The Saints' Mason Leach added a 4-yard TD run with 1:56 remaining.