At times on Friday it was hard not to feel bad for Naperville North’s defense. The Huskies would appear to have a Naperville Central receiver covered, but somehow Payton Thorne would thread the needle to complete a pass. It happened again and again in the Redhawks’ 35-7 victory against their arch rivals.
“I run the route and I just know the ball is going to be there,” Naperville Central receiver Cade McDonald said. “You don’t have to worry about that. You just worry about making the catch. Payton is the best quarterback I’ve seen. It is awesome getting to play with him.”
Thorne, a Western Michigan recruit, was 16-for-21 passing for 286 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for a four-yard touchdown.
“The game plan was great for us, it allowed me to complete passes,” Thorne said. “That’s a credit to our coaches, they kept it simple for us. The receivers ran great routes. You can’t throw it to guys that aren’t open.”
Only one of Thorne’s passes was off the mark the entire game. He was on the run when he threw it.
“He’s definitely progressed as I’ve played with him,” McDonald said. “Tonight he was on the money every single play. You have to give it to him for working hard in practice. He’s just an accurate passer.”
Naperville North (0-3) scored on a 58-yard reverse by Matt Maschmeier midway through the first quarter. That tied the score at 7. It was all Redhawks (1-2) from then on.
“During pregame and all week we talked about having no turnovers,” Thorne said. “We had three Week 1 and five in Week 2. We knew we could put up points and rack up yards.”
McDonald had eight receptions for 147 yards. He caught a 46 and a five-yard touchdown pass. Promising sophomore Samuel Jackson had three catches for 46 yards and one touchdown. Jared Suchevits caught three passes for 57 yards and one touchdown.
“Obviously it is a luxury to have receivers like that out there running routes,” Thorne said. “Cade played outstanding. Sam is making progress. He had never played receiver in his life before this year but he’s been great. It’s was great to get him a touchdown.”
Both teams entered the game winless so this was a crucial game. All four loses were to ranked teams. The Redhawks lost to top-ranked Lincoln-Way East last week.
“We like to say we can play with anybody but we did get it handed to us last week,” Thorne said. “So we came out with plenty of motivation and played with a chip on our shoulder.”
Running back Danny Hughes had 25 carries for 168 yards for Naperville Central.
“We focused on running the ball,” Thorne said. “It was tough to run the ball last week, [Lincoln-Way East’s] defensive line is great.”
Naperville North had some success on the ground with sophomore running back Elijah Jordan (16 carries, 92 yards). Quarterback Cliff Vickers was 11-for-16 for 90 yards. The Huskies only completed one pass of more than 13 yards.
This non-conference game was the first time the rivals have played at Naperville Central since 2000. The schools will play each other again in a conference game at North Central College on Sept. 28.
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