Ethan Thulin makes amends with big TD catch, sends Downers Grove North past Downers Grove South

Downers Grove North's Noah Battle (20) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Downers Grove South during a football game at Downers Grove North High School on Friday, Sep 9, 2022.

DOWNERS GROVE – Late in the third quarter with the score tied, Ethan Thulin had something happen that rarely does.

A potential touchdown pass fell through his fingers.

Two plays later, the Downers Grove North senior more than made up for it.

Hauling in a 41-yard strike from Sam Reichert on a post pattern, Thulin’s score gave the Trojans the lead for good in a 27-7 victory over Downers Grove South.

With the win, Downers North is 3-0 for the second straight year as it opens West Suburban Silver play this week.

“Those were back-to-back good balls,” said Thulin, who had gotten behind the defense on a go-pattern two plays earlier. “I knew we had it. I don’t know what I was thinking. It just slipped through my fingers.

“We are 3-0 right now, but we aren’t satisfied. We won’t be satisfied until we are playing in Week 10. We are just taking it week by week and getting better.”

Noah Battle put the finishing touches on the crosstown victory with a 35-yard touchdown run with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter. The junior kicked off the scoring with a two-yard scamper and totaled 126 yards on 20 carries.

“We know this is a big rivalry,” Battle said. “We wanted to come out and punch it down their throats because every year it seems to be such a close game. We wanted to stretch it out. That obviously didn’t happen through a couple quarters, but then we got going.

“Our goal is to go 1-0 each week and we’ve done that now three weeks in a row.”

Downers Grove North's Sam Reichert (6) carries the ball on a keeper against Downers Grove South during a football game at Downers Grove North High School on Friday, Sep 9, 2022.

While it took time for the offense to get rolling, the Trojans’ defense once again was dominant throughout the game. The unit notched five sacks, including two from Ben Bielawski. Manny Adefila, Jimmy Janicki and Alexander Kartsounes also registered sacks. Thomas Williams had a fumble recovery.

“We’ve been working our tails off all summer and all season to come out on top,” Williams said. “We played our butts off and we played as a team. Our defense stepped up in big moments and our offense did the same.

“We trust each and every individual and our coaching staff. Coach (Keith) Lichtenberg (the defensive coordinator) does a great job with the game plans. We are flying to the ball, forcing turnovers, getting three-and-outs. It was an incredible team effort.”

Reichert finished with 80 passing yards and 26 rushing yards. He scored on a 1-yard run.

Downers Grove South's Mack O'Halloran (9) carries the ball against Downers Grove North during a football game at Downers Grove North High School on Friday, Sep 9, 2022.

“Their guys always do a great job coaching-wise,” Downers North coach Joe Horeni said. “This year, our kids and their kids know each other more and are buddies more than any other year probably. It was special. Downers Grove football is great. That was the most fans I’ve seen in a while.”

Mack O’Halloran did a little bit of everything for the Mustangs (0-3). The senior was constantly in the backfield on defense. On offense, he caught five passes for 73 yards, rushed three times for 20 yards and even threw a 39-yard pass to Ryan Horn-Salerno, who had three catches for 81 yards.

Downers South scored on a 24-yard pass from Ryan Dawson to Brandon Amaniampong with 7:29 remaining in the third quarter. Dawson was 15 of 17 through the air for 177 yards.