Batavia coach Dennis Piron still possessed positive thoughts about his team heading into Friday’s game at Glenbard North, despite last week’s 40-38 loss to Oswego on the game’s final play.
“I felt good about our game plan against this team,” he said. “I felt good about things we thought we could do offensively. When you lose a game on the last play, you have no idea what your next few days are going to be like.
“But to come out and get a big win here and get to 1-1 on the year … tell them not to drop us from the rankings. We’re not dead yet.”
No 25 Batavia scored on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Niemiec to Canaan Coffey, a pair of short runs by Noah Frazier and Zach Garrett and a safety late in the third quarter to defeat Glenbard North 23-12.
“Oswego was very big and powerful,” Piron said. “We had some difficulty getting to their quarterback, who’s a pretty special player. We felt like we had focus a little more on roles and responsibilities this week, and the defensive coaches did a great job getting guys back on track.”
Junior linebacker Jake Hlava had little trouble acquainting himself with Glenbard North quarterback Brett Gasiorowski. Hlava sacked Gasiorowski twice, including in the end zone after the Panthers had pulled within 14-6 on a 71-yard run by Devion Hodges on the first play of the second half.
“Last year we didn’t let up many points at all,” Hlava said. “Last week was really a disgrace to give up that many points. This week we came out hard from the first whistle and the intensity was at an all-time high. We were coming after them the whole game. All 11 guys were just coming after them.”
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs put the game out of reach with a 13-play, 81-yard drive to open the fourth quarter. A 25-yard run by Niemiec (10-of-19, 120 yards passing) on fourth-and-2 from the Glenbard North 47 kept the drive alive. Garrett (19 carries, 90 yards) covered the final 6 yards.
“Everybody did their job,” Piron said. “We have two quarterbacks. It’s nice to have two kids who can play and help us win. Coffey made big plays when necessary. He’s a special receiver. Everybody did their job.”
Hodges (21 carries, 167 yards), pressed into playing quarterback when Gasiorowski was hurt on the safety, tried to rally the Panthers. He led the them to a touchdown with 32 seconds remaining. But his second pass after a successful onside kick was intercepted at the Batavia 30.
“We were just inefficient running the ball,” Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens said. “At times we showed flashed of what we can do, what we should be able to do, but we’re just not consistent enough. We have to get our ground game going. That’s what we do.”