Takeaways propel Lincoln-Way North past Thornwood for share of league title

SHARE Takeaways propel Lincoln-Way North past Thornwood for share of league title

Lincoln-Way North made sure the drama of senior night was relegated to pre-game festivities Friday in Frankfort.

Thornwood turned the ball over on its first four possessions and Lincoln-Way North took advantage on its way to a 49-18 Southwest Suburban Red victory during the final week of the regular season.

The win gave the Phoenix (8-1, 6-1) their second straight eight-win regular season and a share of the league title with Lincoln-Way West (8-1, 6-1). Both teams will learn their playoff fate Saturday evening.

“We knew we wanted to come out sharp, play well, take care of business and get ready for the real challenge next week,” Lincoln-Way North coach George Czart said.

As fate would have it, a pair of seniors led the charge Friday. Quarterback Ryan Arthur went 6-of-13 for 107 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Jake Ostrowski (three catches, 57 yards) was on the receiving end of two of those scores.

“We just played our game and did what we’ve been doing all season,” Arthur said.

Lincoln-Way North scored 14 first-quarter points off Thornwood (1-8, 1-6) turnovers. The Phoenix led 21-0 after a quarter and 28-6 at the half.

Lincoln-Way North’s Dan Brown recovered a fumble at the Thornwood 10 on the second play of the game. Ryan Arthur hit Kyle Ostrowski for a 10-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead with 11:10 left in the first quarter.

“To score on the first play helps a lot to settle our nerves,” Arthur said.

Three plays later, Drew Slager’s interception set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Branch (11 rushes, 103 yards and two touchdowns) for a 14-0 lead. A 3-yard run by Branch made it 21-0 at the end of the quarter.

“We worked on taking away some of those routes and I was happy to see our guys get some of those early turnovers,” Czart said.

Thornwood quarterback Travis Roberson (15-of-24 for 212 yards, three touchdowns) threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Drew Evans (seven catches, 115 yards) with 7:44 left in the second quarter, cutting the Phoenix lead to 21-6. Arthur hit Jake Hradek for a 20-yard touchdown and a 28-6 lead at the half.

Arthur threw 38 yards to Ostrowski and 3 yards to Shahem Attallah for touchdowns to push the lead to 49-6 after three quarters. Ben Bajic’s 16-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter started a running clock, per the state’s mercy rule.

“We’re excited to get going in the playoffs,” Arthur said. “It’s exciting to be co-conference champs, but [the playoffs] are what we’ve been working for all season.”

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