DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Despite rushing for 244 yards in a 24-14 win over neighborhood rival Downers Grove North on Friday, Downers Grove South running back Josh Williams wasn’t smiling after the game.
Racking up 225 yards in the second half and scoring two touchdowns wasn’t satisfying to him. He wasn’t even pleased No. 9 Downers Grove South (5-0) remained undefeated, or that he has already accumulated 1,200 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on the season.
All Williams could think about following the Mustangs’ victory was being contained in the first half and fumbling on Downers Grove North’s 1-yard line in the second half. He sounded after the game as if his team had been eliminated from the playoffs.
“It’s not supposed to happen,” Williams said of his fumble. “It’s not something I’m used to doing. I’m going to be down on myself until I prove to myself I will never do that again.”
Williams redeemed himself quickly following his fumble, which Downers Grove North recovered. When the Mustangs got the ball back, Williams scored on his first touch, rushing for a 28-yard touchdown to put his team ahead 24-0 in the fourth quarter.
Downers Grove North’s defense did have Williams’ number in the first half and kept the game close. He was held to 19 yards on seven carries in the first two quarters, and Downers Grove South only led 10-0 at halftime behind a 67-yard touchdown run by quarterback A.J. Simoncelli and a 32-yard field goal by Anthony Farinella.
“Their defense is really good,” Williams said. “They knew what they were doing. I was so hard on myself [at halftime.] I hate the feeling like I’m being shut down.”
Williams came out motivated in the third quarter and ran for 35 yards on his first carry, 11 yards on his second carry and scored on a 10-yard run on his third attempt. After five runs in the second half, he was over 100 yards for the game.
Downers Grove North’s offense had its chances throughout the night. In the second quarter, the Trojans (1-4) set up a first-and-goal from the 7-yard line after a couple first-down passes by Riley McGinnis. But on their next play, they were penalized 10 yards for holding, and they failed to score on the drive.
Later in the third quarter, trailing 17-0, Downers Grove North again pushed the ball inside the Mustangs’ 10. But on first-and-goal, the Trojans fumbled the ball and were pushed back 10 yards. The drive ended with an interception by Lance Leong on fourth down.
Downers Grove North made the score respectable with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Anthony Rada, who ran for 132 yards, and Robert Sheppard each scored late rushing touchdowns.
Downers Grove South coach John Belskis wasn’t pleased with the late touchdowns his defense allowed.
“We didn’t finish the game like we normally do, but I think it’s the sixth year in a row we’ve beaten them,” Belskis said. “That’s saying a lot. They’re a good football team. Our kids now have bragging rights for our seniors. I’m happy for them, but not happy we didn’t finish the game like we normally do.”
Downers Grove North wide receiver Stephen Kanis caught five passes for 68 yards. McGinnis threw for 119 yards.