Broc Rutter takes control in Neuqua Valley win over Naperville North

SHARE Broc Rutter takes control in Neuqua Valley win over Naperville North

Toward the end of Neuqua Valley’s record-setting 12-win campaign from last year, Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus spoke often of his team not being satisfied.

On Saturday night, Ellinghaus’ team set out with one objective: to start making sure 2012 wasn’t a fluke.

Highlighted by junior quarterback Broc Rutter’s three first-half touchdown passes to Mikey Dudek and two TD runs by T.J. Scruggs, No. 12 Neuqua Valley earned a hard-fought, 34-27 victory over Naperville North.

“Sure helps … We just got connected. He ran good routes, our line blocked,” Rutter said of the Illinois-bound Dudek, who had three catches for 51 yards and three TDs — all coming in the second quarter. “It helps when you have other targets, too. (Opponents) can’t just focus on Mike. It helps a lot.”

Rutter, splitting time with Conner Milliren behind center for the right to replace the departed Dylan Andrew, finished his night 9-of-14 passing for 156 yards with the three TD passes to Dudek and an interception.

While Rutter and Dudek were taking care of business in a 20-point second quarter for the Wildcats, their running game took the baton in the second half as they tried to hold onto a 20-14 halftime lead.

Given the opportunity to replace the departed Joey Rhattigan on a full-time basis, Scruggs found paydirt twice in the second half, including punctuating a 16-play, 80-yard drive with a four-yard TD run with 3:36 left in regulation that proved to be the eventual game-winning score for Neuqua (1-0).

“It was a fun game. Everyone was excited. We were pumped up,” said Scruggs, who ran for 153 yards on 36 carries while overcoming a pair of fumbles. “Second half came around, we got more energized and everything. It was just fun playing out here.”

With the two programs opening the season opposite each other for the ninth straight year, the Wildcats evened the all-time series at 5-5 in winning their fourth straight game against the Huskies.

Hoping to rebound from a third 5-5 finish in the last four years and a first-round postseason loss to Neuqua Valley last year, Naperville North grabbed leads of 7-0 and 14-7 in the first half but couldn’t take the lead away from the Wildcats in the second half.

Via the running game, DeSean Brown and Sharad Crosby accounted for three of the four touchdowns on the night for Naperville North (0-1).

Brown ran for TDs of seven and eight yards, respectively, while catching eight passes for 114 yards, with most of those receptions coming from senior quarterback Connor Johannes.

Johannes ended the night 12-of-25 passing for 194 yards with one TD — a 58-yard strike to Anthony Rehayem near the end of the third quarter that tied the game at 27-27.

“I thought we did a lot of good things and we can build on it,” Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said.

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