DOWNERS GROVE – A good defense and a strong running game can do wonders for a football team.
Downers Grove South used both to full effect in a hard-fought 29-14 win over Proviso East Friday night.
The defense forced seven turnovers and the offense scored when it needed to as the Mustangs' (5-3 overall, 5-0 West Suburban Gold) fended off a challenge from the pesky Pirates (0-8, 0-5) for a homecoming win that kept them in first place in the conference.
South went ahead 14-0 by the end of the first quarter on Alec Arvanitakis' 3-yard run and a 41-yard hookup between quarterback Jordan Skach and receiver Javon Turner.
The Pirates made it a 14-8 game before Le'Devin Smith sauntered 24 yards to give the hosts a 20-8 lead that stood until halftime. Turner's and Smith's scores both came after Proviso East turnovers.
East made it a 20-14 game with 4:41 left in the third quarter, but the Mustangs added a Max Soderlund field goal early in the fourth and Skach's 6-yard pass to Rashaun Cowan late in the frame to secure the win.
Arvanitakis finished with 132 yards rushing while Smith added 74. Skach passed for 77 yards, 73 to Turner.
Deandre Washington had a pair of interceptions while Dezrad Jenkins recovered two fumbles. Turner had an interception at the goal line in the fourth quarter when South led 23-14, and Jacob Baker and Mike Connolly each recovered a fumble.
The Mustangs host WSG rival Hinsdale South at 7:30 p.m. Friday and with a win would lock up the conference title and a playoff berth.