DeKalb pulls away from Waubonsie Valley in 2nd half
For the second time in a month, the DeKalb football team and Waubonsie Valley were locked in a close game at halftime.
Last time, the Barbs' defense and special teams came through in a Week 6 win. This time, big third-quarter runs by Jamari Brown, Talen Tate and Ethan McCarter gave DeKalb a cushion in a 28-3 win on Thursday.
"Team focus is what we had in our heart," Brown said. "In the first half we were heartless. We had to focus up. In the second half, we locked in and got it done."
Nursing a 7-3 lead at the half, the Barb defense forced a three and out on the first possession for Waubonsie Valley (0-9 overall, 0-6 DuPage Valley Conference). Two plays later, Brown broke off a 34-yard touchdown run. After another stop, the Barbs (6-3, 4-2) ran two plays, both runs by Tate - the scoring dagger a 56-yard run for a 21-3 lead.
Austin Martin intercepted a Luke Elsea pass, and on the next play McCarter ran it in from 15 out for a 28-3 lead and control of the game.
Brown said the first scoring drive helped set the tone for the second half.
"Our energy was down at first at half," Brown said. "But after halftime we had our energy up and that drive helped us a lot."
DeKalb coach Derek Schneeman said there were a bunch of unique circumstances around the game that made things ripe for a letdown for the Barbs, from the game being on a Thursday to the team coming off a 14-0 upset of Neuqua Valley last week.
"We lacked intensity in the first half and I kind of saw that coming because there's a lot of weird factors at play, especially on Thursday night," Schneeman said. "But I'm proud of the way we came out in the second half and did what we needed to do to get a win."
The Barbs had 171 yards of offense in the second half, all on the ground on just 12 plays. They finished with 323 for the game and held the Warriors to 75 second-half yards, 40 coming on a pass from Elsea to Sean Bizon. Waubonsie Valley finished with 173 total yards in the game, with Elsea throwing for 115, 90 of them going to Bizon on four catches.
"After last year our defense has improved way more," Brown said. "We have a bunch of shutouts this year. It's way better. It's very fulfilling to see this."
Tate finished with 180 yards and a score on 14 carries, while Brown carried eight times for 60 yards and two scores. DeKalb took the opening kickoff and rattled off a 6:07 drive and got down to the Warrior 8, but Tate fumbled.
The defense stepped up for the Barbs on the next drive, not only forcing a three and out but backing the Warriors up to the 1 after a sack by Daniel Roman-Johnson. McCarter took the punt down to the 15, and on the first play Brown punched it in for the score.
The Warriors answered with a 39-yard field goal to cut the score to 7-3. DeKalb took the next drive down to the Waubonsie Valley 21, but Adrien McVicar overthrew McCarter in the end zone on fourth and 6.
Waubonsie followed by marching down to the DeKalb 20 with a long drive of its own, but Elsea was incomplete on fourth and 2.
"We gave them a run for their money in the first half," Waubonsie Valley coach Tom Baumgartner said. "We just ran out of gas there in the second half. They made some nice plays and that was that."
Baumgartner said he felt his players played hard all game, as they had all year. He said he expects the team to start thinking about how to turn things around for next season.
"0-9 is not something we're ever going to be happy with," Baumgartner said. "We have to take a real hard look at how we do things, make sure we get this cleaned up. The seniors gave everything they can, they were great kids. For our juniors, we have to make we sure we don't let this happen again."
The season ends for the Warriors, while DeKalb will find out its playoff opponent on Saturday.