The Neuqua Valley offense arrived after halftime on Friday night in Lombard.
The Wildcats scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half, scoring 20 unanswered points to beat Glenbard East 20-6 in an Upstate Eight Valley game.
“It was good to get on a winning track,” Wildcats coach Bill Ellinghaus said. “(Glenbard East) blitzed us a lot and it really took us until halftime to make a few adjustments and then come out with a little different formation to get the running game going a little bit.”
Glenbard East (2-1, 0-1), on the other hand, just couldn’t get anything going after scoring a touchdown on their first possession.
“They beat us 20-0 in the second half,” Rams coach John Walters said. “We turned it over last week and we survived. We turned it over this week and got beat by a good team.”
Neuqua Valley (1-2, 1-0) needed just six plays on its first possession of the third quarter to take a 12-6 lead. Quarterback Broc Rutter connected with Evan Moore with 4:32 left in the quarter for an 11-yard touchdown, but the Wildcats failed to convert the PAT kick for the second straight time so they only led 12-6.
Then, the Neuqua Valley defense provided a huge spark as Liam Bunge intercepted a pass from Glenbard East’s Philip Abruzino, which gave the Wildcats the ball at the Rams’ 14-yard line.
“We were sparked by our defense,” Ellinghaus said. “Our defense played extremely well, and they’ve played well for three weeks in a row now, and we were finally able to put a few points on the board.”
Charlie Hunter (20 carries, 86 yards) completed the brief drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and the Wildcats added a 2-point conversion to pull ahead 20-6 with 3:35 still remaining in the third quarter.
Hunter added a 2-yard score on Neuqua Valley’s ensuing drive to complete the scoring.
While Hunter was successful running the ball, the Wildcats also were able to pass it as Rutter (11-of-23, 163 yards) overcame a steady rain.
Perhaps, this is just the start of very good things for a very talented offensive group.
“I feel confident that we’ve gotten a little better each week,” Ellinghaus said. “There were some things we can build on. It was a good overall win, but there are still a lot of things we want to fix.”
Luke Sawicki and Eli Tappin added interceptions for a Neuqua Valley defense that yielded only 179 total yards.
“All week, our defense has been talking about getting a shut out,” Wildcats senior lineman Tyler Bromer said. “As soon as we gave up that six we weren’t going to give up anymore.”
And they didn’t.