Brett Bowman-led Batavia defense takes one away from St. Charles North

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Brett Bowman and the rest of the Batavia defense could sense early on Friday that points would be hard to come by against St. Charles North.

That’s fine — Bowman wasn’t in a giving mood either.

Taking away three interceptions, Bowman and the No. 24 Bulldogs turned away a stiff challenge from the visiting North Stars for a 21-7 Upstate Eight River win.

“We knew they were going to put up a good fight,” said Bowman, a junior cornerback who now has five interceptions this season. “The way we saw them playing on defense we knew we had to step it up.”

Bowman’s first pick was the biggest, a momentum swing late in the first half.

A Zach Woeste interception gave North (3-2, 1-2) the ball near midfield in a 7-7 game.

The North Stars drove to the Batavia 24-yard line, but after a holding call, Bowman stepped in front of a Nathan Didier timing route for a diving pick.

“I knew we were going to bring pressure off the edge with guys like (Jake) Hlava and (Noah) Frazier and (Josh) Leonhard bringing pressure,” Bowman said. “We were on the weak side so it was a longer pass. I just stepped in front. They like to run a lot of timing stuff so you really have to be clean out of your breaks.”

Batavia (4-1, 3-0) wasted no time making it hurt. Zach Garrett ripped off a 38-yard run and three plays later Kyle Niemiec rolled left and hit a sliding Canaan Coffey for a 5-yard touchdown to go ahead 14-7.

“You have to protect the football with 1:50 left; you have to understand the situation,” North coach Rob Pomazak said. “And you certainly can’t let them go 40 yards after that. It’s inexcusable.”

Pomazak’s defense otherwise put forth a yeoman effort, although not enough in the back end of a brutal two weeks.

North lost to Geneva last week.

“Nothing to hang our heads about, but it’s still not a win,” he said. “Our goal is not to compete with the teams; our goal is to beat these teams. There is not a tougher two-week stretch. I think we earned our stripes.”

North struck first in what was a defensive struggle from the start.

Nathan Didier, 21-for-36 for 176 yards, hooked up with Kyle Novotney on a wide receiver screen that he took for a 16-yard TD on the last play of the first quarter.

Batavia, its offense three-and-out its first three series, responded to the sense of urgency.

Niemiec led a 14-play, 80-yard drive to tie it 7-7. On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Niemiec found a wide-open Glenn Albanese on play-action.

“We had to get something going,” Niemiec said. “Our defense couldn’t do everything.”

Colin Thurston’s fourth-down sack stalled a North drive to start the second half and Bowman later intercepted two deep balls.

Batavia snuffed out North’s last-chance drive near midfield with 3:05 to play — and the Bulldogs could breathe easier after Hlava’s ensuing 46-yard TD rumble.

Garrett ran for 94 yards for Batavia and Niemiec went 11-for-21 for 80 yards.

“There was a bunch of relief off our shoulders after this one,” Niemiec said. “This was a rough one.”

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