It was payback time Sunday morning at Red Grange Field for Glenbard West, whose season was ended by Wheaton Warrenville South in the playoffs the past two years.
Despite seven turnovers—four by the Hilltoppers and three by the Tigers—Glenbard West finished up strong with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away and register a 21-7 victory over WWS in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.
The loss was the Tigers’ first in nearly two years. WWS, which went undefeated last season en route to winning its second consecutive Class 7A state title, last lost on Sept. 4, 2009 to Maine South.
The Hilltoppers, who never trailed through the contest, struck first after senior defensive back Michael Marston picked off new WWS quarterback Thaddeus Armstrong’s pass on the Tigers’ opening offensive series and ran it back to the 28-yard line.
Glenbard West QB Justice Odom then capitalized on the turnover by hitting tight end Max Burere over the middle for a 7-0 lead
The Hilltoppers threatened to score from the Tigers’ 1-yard line just before halftime following a drive that ate up most of the second-quarter clock. But Odom fumbled at the 1, and defensive back Grant Meyer recovered for the Tigers to end the threat and kept the score at 7-0.
Following a scoreless third quarter—one in which Glenbard West turned the ball over twice on fumbles—the Hilltoppers increased their lead to 14-0 with 9:07 to go in the fourth on Joey Zito’s 2-yard touchdown run.
However, Glenbard West’s third fumble of the second half—this one coming with 6:36 to go in the game at the Hilltoppers’ 22-yard-line—gave the Tigers new life. From there, Dan Vitale punched it in on a draw play to make it 14-7.
But the Tigers ended up coughing up the football after Armstrong completed a pass to Brady Banda. Glenbard West sophomore Hayden Carlson fell on the ball at the Tiger 32-yard line.
Two plays later, Avery Balogh swept around the right side for an 18-yard touchdown with 1:45 left to put the game away for Glenbard West.