Lansu throws 4 TD passes to lead Downers Grove North into semis with rout of Lincoln-Way West

Sophomore quarterback Owen Lansu watched his Downers Grove North teammates bounce off tackles and run over Lincoln-Way West defenders all day Saturday.

Lansu is used to it. He knows the Trojans are tough.

"I feel like that where we come from, we always play physical football from the quarterback position to the running backs, receivers, linemen," Lansu said. "I think that's an advantage we have with our team is everybody wants to be physical."

While his teammates did the dirty work, Lansu put on a show. He threw for 259 yards and four touchdowns as visiting Downers Grove North rolled to a 34-6 win over Lincoln-Way West in a Class 7A quarterfinal.

Noah Battle ran for 177 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while Charlie Cruse finished with seven catches for 109 yards and a score for the 13th-seeded Trojans (10-2), who will host top-seeded Normal Community (12-0) in a semifinal next week.

It will be Downers Grove North's first semifinal since 2004 when it won the Class 8A state championship.

Joey Campagna led 12th-seeded Lincoln-Way West (9-3), running for 173 yards on 26 carries. But the Trojans kept the Warriors' workhorse, who piled up 291 yards and five touchdowns in a second-round win over Collinsville, out of the end zone.

"I've got a lot of respect for their program," Downers Grove North coach Joe Horeni said of Lincoln-Way West. "They've got disciplined, hard-nosed kids. We knew we had to stop the run. We did that and I'm proud of our kids."

Campagna kept battling after suffering neck and shoulder injuries early in the game.

"I couldn't raise my shoulder and my neck was like stuck," Campagna said. "It's the life of a running back. You get banged up every week. Knowing it could be my last game, I had to leave it all out there."

Lincoln-Way West's Braden Erwin intercepted Lansu in the end zone on the Trojans' opening drive. What could have been a tough mental blow for a sophomore seemed easily shaken off by Lansu, who led his team to touchdowns on three of its next four possessions.

"One thing about us is no matter what happens, everybody is kind of there for each other," Lansu said. "We're all so tight. When something bad happens, we don't really take it to heart. We just go back out there."

Battle's 53-yard touchdown run got Downers Grove North on the board. Lansu followed with touchdown passes of 44 yards to Oliver Thulin and 16 yards to Cruse as the Trojans built a 20-6 halftime lead.

Horeni was not surprised to see Lansu respond to the early adversity.

"He's got confidence," Horeni said. "He plays a lot more mature than most sophomores should. That's what we love about him. He just keeps his head in the game. Even in a game like this where he throws four touchdown passes, he never gets too high or too low. He just keeps his head on straight. I'm proud of him."

In the second half, Lansu threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Cael Brezina and hit Thulin for a 5-yard score.

Jimmy Janicki had a fumble recovery and Weston Waughop recorded a sack to lead the Downers Grove North defense, which held Lincoln-Way West to field goals of 34 and 44 yards by Zach Hermanson.

Despite the loss, it was a memorable run for the Warriors after missing the playoffs last season.

"From 3-6 to the quarterfinals - that was the mentality and the goal during the summer," Lincoln-Way West coach Luke Lokanc said. "We had senior leadership and overcame a lot of adversity with injuries. The kids stayed together and got along and got us this far.

"This is a great momentum builder for these sophomores and juniors to see what the senior class did."

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