DOWNERS GROVE – As the saying goes, better late than never.
Behind the play of quarterback Jordan Skach and wide receiver Javon Turner, Downers Grove South’s football team mounted a second half comeback Friday, scoring 21 unanswered points to beat Morton, 21-14, and win the battle of the Mustangs.
It was a tale of two halves for Downers South (2-2 overall, 2-0 West Suburban Gold), who, in front on their home crowd on senior night, could muster little first-half offense and trailed 14-0 going into the locker room.
“Morton came out and took it to us – they ran it right down our throat,” South head coach Mark Molinari said. “But in the second half, we had better gap control and were a little bit more sound offensively.”
Skach and Turner led a third-quarter charge, connecting on two of the longest passing plays of the season.
On the team’s first possession of the second half, Downers South drove 72 yards, culminating in a 53-yard touchdown strike from Skach to Turner. The senior receiver momentarily lost the ball in the lights and juggled the pass before gathering the ball and racing down the right sideline.
The duo connected again on South’s next possesion.
Reaching into the back of the playbook, Skach faked a double reverse, deftly tucking the ball on his back hip, causing the secondary to bite and leaving Turner open deep in the middle of the field. Skach aired it out and 72 yards later, the game was tied 14-14 with 2:38 left in the third quarter.
“Skach did a great job faking the reverse,” Turner said. “I faked the crack back and went up the middle of the field – I was wide open.”
“It’s not the most conventional play, but it’s something that we practiced,” Molinari said.
“Ideally, you’d want to stick to a more traditional plan, but it was a great play call by the coaching staff and well-executed by the offense.”
Morton’s time of possession dominance and the play of their quarterback Emilio Engle – who tallied a 72-yard touchdown run and three yard touchdown pass – forced the South coaching staff to think outside of the box, Molinari said.
But the home team’s defense held strong when it mattered most.
Midway through the third quarter, Engle and the Morton offense marched into the red zone but were stymied on fourth-and-1 on the 5-yard line.
Downers South then took a 21-14 lead on a 50 yard scoring drive, as running back Alec Arvanitakis punched it in from the 1-yard line on fourth down.
On Morton’s final possession, the Downers defense came up big again, sacking Engle on fourth down after he methodically led the offense to the 13-yard line.
“It was a hard-fought win,” Molinari said. “Going forward, our goal is to continue to improve our running game and stop the run.”