ST. CHARLES – Wheaton North turned two 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 score while building a 21-7 halftime lead.
The Falcons (3-1, 2-0) put the game away with two second-half touchdowns en route to a 35-14 DuKane Conference triumph over the Saints (1-3, 1-1) on Sept. 15 in St. Charles.
“We had kids in the right position and they made plays,” Falcons coach Joe Wardynski said of his team forcing two 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,” Wardynski said. “He had to go get it off the shoestrings there and bring it in. Plus, it was a fourth-down play [fourth-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.
After a defensive stop, the Saints took over at their own 30 and marched within the Falcons’ 10 before linebacker Nick Sanguinetti’s sack of Paul on a fourth-and-8 halted the drive.
“That was huge,” Wardynski said. “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, two TDs) connected with Matt Kuczaj (three catches, 74 yards) on a 40-yard pass before tossing a 20-yard TD pass to Rich Schilling (five catches, 95 yards) as the Falcons increased 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 forgo a 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.