Illinois High School Football News

Wheaton North holds off Glenbard North’s final drive, becomes playoff eligible

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WHEATON – There are two sides to every story.

The last drive in Friday’s Wheaton North-Glenbard North DuKane Conference football game is a good example.

Down 21-14 with 2:39 to go, Glenbard North took over on its own 20-yard line and used six passing plays to push the ball to the Wheaton North 35. In that stretch, senior quarterback Justin Bland completed five passes for 48 yards.

But then there’s the flip side — Wheaton North’s defensive line put enough pressure on Bland to force four straight incompletions to preserve that 21-14 score, and a victory that made the Falcons playoff eligible.

“I think we had a lot of depth at the end,” Wheaton North junior defensive end Walker Owens said of that final drive. “We were subbing guys in and out all game, so we were fresh coming in and out, and we had a lot of stunts that were successful.”

Across the field, an exhausted Bland considered what might have been, as his team dropped to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the DuKane.

“All week at practice I was watching their film and I saw how to break down their defense, and I just told the receivers as the play was going on what route to run,” said Bland, who was a one-man wrecking crew the Panthers, completing 10 of 14 passes for 129 yards and rushing for another 70 on 13 carries.

“I told them to catch the ball and get out of bounds, That’s how we kept moving down the field. We kept our composure.”

The Falcons became playoff eligible by improving to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in league, something that was just as special as a homecoming victory for junior defensive lineman John Tarpeh.

“Definitely getting into the playoffs, the bigger stage brings out the best, fiery competition in us,” Tarpeh said. “As a team together, we lock down, lock in, and get all of our stunts right.”

Wheaton North got a big night offensively from senior back Tyler O’Connor, who rushed for a pair of touchdowns and kicked three extra points, and just missed another 3 with a field goal that went wide.

Bland was just as solid, throwing two touchdown passes — a 27-yarder to David Petty and  another for 14 yards to Johnnie Robertson.

But the Panthers were hampered by two Bland sacks and 9 penalties for 55 yards lost.