VILLA PARK – With the top spot in the conference up for grabs, Downers Grove South's football team went out and claimed it.
The Mustangs raced out to a 35-7 lead at the half on its way to a 46-14 victory over Willowbrook.
It was a matchup between two teams with unbeaten records in the West Suburban Gold conference, and with the win, South is in the driver's seat to claim the conference title.
"Our number one goal is to win the conference and we have not completed that yet," said Mustangs coach Mark Molinari. "But Willowbrook was undefeated in conference too, so we treated this like a conference championship game."
The Mustangs (4-3 overall, 4-0 WSG) gained their big first-half lead through a balanced attack of three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.
Wide receiver Javon Turner accounted for all three of the first-half receiving touchdowns, including a 65-yard score he broke free on that gave the Mustangs a 7-0 lead.
"I just saw the DBs out of position and made the most of it," Turner said.
The Warriors (5-2, 3-1) tied up the game on the next possession, with wide receiver Hayden Adams catching an 11-yard touchdown, but after a failed onside kick by the Warriors, the Mustangs scored after five rushing plays – the first four by running back Alec Arvanitakis and the touchdown scored on a 15-yard run by running back Le'Devin Smith. Arvanitakis scored his own rushing touchdown on the Mustangs' next possession.
After South defensive lineman Caleb Konney intercepted his first of two passes to set up a short field, Mustangs' quarterback Jordan Skach found Turner in the end zone for another score. Turner finished the first half's scoring with a 53 yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
Though the Mustangs' offense stole the show, Turner was quick to praise the defense.
"I was really proud of the defense. They really stepped up this week," he said. "(Willowbrook) scores 40 points a game. We held them to 14, so props to them."
The Mustangs added two more touchdowns in the second half – a run by Arvanitakis and a pass by Skach to Turner – before putting in backups and running out the clock.
Warriors wide receiver Joe Catanese caught a 44-yard touchdown before the end of the third quarter for the Warriors' only other score.
Molinari said that until Friday, the Mustangs had not played a full game all year, where the offense and defense both did well.
"This was the first game that both played what they're capable of doing," he said.