The third time was the charm.
Or in this case Friday night, the third turnover in rapid succession to open the second half pretty well decided things.
Lincoln-Way West senior linebacker McKenna Wychocki separated the Lincoln-Way Central back from the ball for the second time, and as also happened in the first half, junior safety Andrew Gray dove in to make the recovery.
This time, a Lincoln-Way West offense that had turned the ball over on each of its first two possessions in the second half marched 65 yards in 13 plays to extend its lead to 20-9, and the Warriors were on their way to a 27-9 victory in the district battle before about 4,000 fans at West’s packed stadium.
Rich Kruis scored three touchdowns on short runs and Nick Dangles ran for 69 yards in 21 carries against a tough Central defense, while junior quarterback Justin Keuch completed 10-of-21 passes for 97 yards, including five to Adam Slattery for 62. But this one belonged to the defense.
“They played well defensively and we played poorly on offense,” Central coach Brett Hefner said. “Our defense was on the field too much.
“Our defense got a couple turnovers early in the second half and we couldn’t capitalize. We did some things well last week (in a 28-27 overtime win over Lincoln-Way North in the season opener) that we didn’t do well tonight, and when you have a veteran group like we do, that’s frustrating.”
“The first win feels great,” West first-year coach Dave Ernst said. “I’m proud of our guys for bouncing back (after last week’s 19-13 loss at Sycamore). We made some mistakes, but our defense bailed us out twice there in the second half.”
Central’s Nick Bechtold intercepted a pass to open the second half and on West’s next possession, Matt Schneider recovered a fumble. But the Warriors’ defense held on each occassion.