BATAVIA – The Batavia football team’s game plan chugged along right on schedule almost the entire night, putting the Bulldogs on the verge of springing a sizable upset to kick off the conference season.
One penalty-aided Glenbard South drive down the stretch was enough to outweigh all of the Bulldogs’ handiwork, providing the visiting Raiders a 19-16 win Friday.
The game reinforced to veteran Batavia coach Mike Gaspari that he has a group worth fighting for.
“We’ve certainly had more talented teams over the years but this group of kids just has been a joy every day to come out and work with,” Gaspari said. “That makes it special.”
Batavia led 16-13 midway through the fourth quarter and its much-improved defense had Glenbard South pinned deep in its own territory, facing second-and-17. An incomplete pass followed, but a roughing the passer call gave the Raiders (2-1, 1-0 Western Sun Conference) a jolt of momentum.
After a long touchdown pass was called back because of a hold, Raiders quarterback Trace Wanless hooked up with speedster Connor Douglas for a 49-yard gain, then the Raiders added 15 more yards when Batavia was flagged for a horse-collar.
That provided Glenbard South a first down at Batavia’s 21-yard line, and the Raiders eventually scored when Douglas beat the Bulldogs’ defense around the outside for a 6-yard touchdown run with 1:27 to play.
Batavia penalties on the Raiders’ final drive undermined a defense that earned high praise from Bulldogs coaches after the game.
“I didn’t see the roughing the passer,” Gaspari said. “The horse collar is an interesting call at this level today. It’s a rule emphasis this year in high school football and I think it’s an excellent rule emphasis – the problem is, nobody knows how to interpret it.
“That was actually a hair pull, which is not illegal. I was right in front if it. It was not a horse collar.”
The Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1 WSC), who had not attempted a pass the entire second half, then took possession at their own 30-yard line, but managed only a 5-yard reception from Noel Gaspari to fellow sophomore Danny Seiton. A pair of sacks on the possession spelled a four-and-out.
Gaspari said his offensive plan was run-dominant both to control clock against the explosive Raiders offense and because his son, Noel, was not at full health.
An inspired night by the offensive line made the run-all-night plan viable. Batavia enjoyed lengthy touchdown drives on its first drive of each half, on which the Bulldogs rushed it 24 times and threw only once.
“It’s fun,” Batavia right guard Jeff Hartzel said. “Once you get that first down, you recharge your battery and you just want to keep going.”
Glenbard South coach Dan Starkey said he was surprised Batavia didn’t throw more but came away impressed by Batavia offensive linemen Pat Martin, Sean Tews, Kyle Dee, Matt Mueller and Hartzell.
“Their offensive line really came off the ball at times tonight and gave us a lot of fits,” Starkey said. “I give our defensive line a lot of credit. They hung in there and kept battling.”
Wanless threw for 205 yards and rushed for 77 for Glenbard South, which led 13-6 at halftime. Seiton rushed 20 times for 83 yards, and scored the touchdown that tied the score at the 6:40 mark of the third quarter.
Batavia’s Braden Hartmann added 80 rushing yards on 15 carries, while Mike Clopton kicked a 27-yard field goal to put Batavia up, 16-13, with 10:27 left in the game.
Gaspari likes the way his team has regrouped after a blowout loss against St. Charles North on opening night.
“Where our kids have come from since that week is just incredible,” Gaspari said.
GLENBARD SOUTH 19, BATAVIA 16
Glenbard South 7 6 0 6 - 19
Batavia 6 0 7 3 - 16
First quarter B – Hartmann 8 run (kick failed), 5:21. GS – Wanless 5 run (Seaver kick), 3:00. Second quarter GS – Wanless 4 run (kick failed), 0:29. Third quarter B – Seiton 3 run (Clopton kick), 6:40. Fourth quarter B – Clopton 27 field goal, 10:27. GS – Douglas 6 run (pass failed), 1:27.
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING – Glenbard South: Wanless 22-77, Hentges 8-24, Wuanti 1-2, Douglas 1-6. Totals: 32-109. Batavia: Seiton 20-83, Kabba 7-26, Hartmann 15-80, Gaspari 7-7. Totals: 49-196. PASSING – Glenbard South: Wanless 12-19-1-205. Batavia: Gaspari 2-6-0-15. RECEIVING – Glenbard South: Slezak 2-24, Phillips 1-12, Teitsma 4-50, Rovansek 3-35, Douglas 2-84. Totals: 12-205. Batavia: Seiton 2-15. Totals: 2-15. TOTAL YARDS: Glenbard South 314, Batavia 211.