WOODSTOCK – Every time Woodstock North needed a big play or big drive during its 24-14 Kishwaukee River Conference win over Burlington Central on Friday night, it seemed to find a way.
When the Rockets took a little more than a minute to score a touchdown on the game’s opening drive with a 55-yard run by quarterback Jake Lenschow, the Thunder (2-3, 1-2 KRC) responded with a 3-yard Ed Flores TD run of their own later in the quarter.
Midway through the third quarter, North was clinging to a 7-6 lead and forced the Rockets to punt from deep in their own territory. Thunder defensive tackle Derek Freeman burst through the line, dived toward the punter with both arms extended and blocked the punt at Burlington Central’s 11-yard line.
The ball was scooped up and recovered by Andrew Pena, which led to a 24-yard Nolan Bryce field goal four plays later.
“I felt like that was a turning point in the game, right there,” Freeman said. “After that, the crowd really started to get noisy and more into it. We fed off that energy. I saw their splits were wide, so I just timed the snap perfectly and made a big play.”
Four minutes after that, Flores found the end zone a second time, on a 1-yard run that put the Thunder ahead, 17-6, late in the third quarter. He carried the ball 31 times for a season-high 153 yards. As a team, North ran 55 times for 365 yards and passed the ball only twice.
“Because we run a spread triple-option offense, I had to hit the holes as quick as possible when I saw them,” Flores said. “I was just real confident out there because my offensive linemen were outstanding and creating huge gaps to run through.”
But the Rockets refused to go away. A 30-yard pass on fourth-and-20 from Lenschow to Kyle Moring, followed by a 2-point conversion, trimmed North’s lead to 17-14 with 8:48 to play in the fourth quarter.
Yet again, the Thunder had an answer. This time in the form of an 11-play, 80-yard drive that took four minutes – capped by a 4-yard TD run by Dane Williams (seven carries, 53 yards), to ice things.
“This season’s been a process when it comes to us learning what it takes to be successful at the varsity level,” Thunder coach Jeff Schroeder said. “This was our best week of practice by far.”
Though the Rockets tallied 226 rushing yards of their own, five Thunder players (Freeman, Pena, Mason Mathews, Zachary Stopczynski and Matt Stevens) had sacks. They also had 10 tackles for losses. A key reason was the aggressive play calling of defensive coordinator Chris Jackowiak.
“Our guys did a great job limiting Burlington’s yardage on first downs,” Jackowiak said. “That gave me much more flexibility in my play calling on second and third downs and also let me dial up more blitzes than we’d usually use.
“One of our goals was to contain Lenschow (5 for 12 passing, 72 yards, and 14 carries for 91 yards) in the pocket, because we knew he was quite an athlete. Half his yards came one one play on their first drive and another late in the game, so we accomplished that goal.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Woodstock North, sr., RB
Flores was a workhorse, carrying the ball 31 times for a season-high 153 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Burlington Central 6 0 0 8 – 14
Woodstock North 7 0 10 7 – 24
BC – Lenschow 55 run (kick failed), 10:39
WN-Flores 3 run (Nolan kick), 1:34
WN – Nolan 24 FG, 6:23
WN – Flores 1 run (Nolan kick), 2:04
BC – Moring 30 pass from Lenschow (Termini run), 8:48
BC – Williams 4 run (Nolan kick), 4:55