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WHEATON, Ill. -- From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, the Wheaton North Falcons' offense was in high-gear on Friday night against the visiting Marian Catholic Spartans. Led by senior quarterback Reece Butler, the Falcons (8-2, 5-2) scored on five of their first six possessions en route to a 27-12 win in the opening round of the Class 7A playoffs.
Butler converted on 12 of his first 13 passes for 129 and two touchdowns to start the game as the Falcons scored every time they had the ball in the first half. In fact, the only thing that slowed down the Falcons offense was self-inflicted wounds. They missed a field goal in the third quarter and fumbled away a drive in the fourth, accounting for two of the three times Wheaton North did not score when it had the ball. The Falcons punted just once.
“Every game you want to start out fast and doing it in the playoffs is huge,” said Reece, who led the Falcons on a 14-play drive to start the game. “And we built on that throughout the night.”
Butler finished the game with 193 passing yards, 78 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Running back Patrick Sharp and senior wide receiver Richard Finley complemented their ace quarterback throughout the night as Sharp ran for 56 yards while Finley caught nine passes for 89 yards and touchdown.
The Spartans (6-3, 4-0) opened their night with an equally impressive 14-play drive, but struggled to move the ball for much of the game00. Aside from the opening drive, the only points Marian Catholic scored the rest of the night came on a 48-yard touchdown reception by Randall Wells with six minutes left in the game. Wells finished the game with 91 receiving yards.
With the win, the Falcons advance to the second round of the playoffs where they will play archival Wheaton Warrenville South. The Falcons lost in their regular-season matchup with the state's top team 42-14 earlier this season.
Player of the game: Butler
Stat of the game: 1. The number of times Marian Catholic forced the Falcons into a three-and-out.
It was over when: Junior Marcin Gawlak connected on a 29-yard field goal at the end of the first half to give the Falcons at 20-6 lead.
Quote of the night: “It’s going to be a good one. We’re excited to get another shot at [Wheaton Warrenville South] and it’s going to be fun.” - Butler after the game on next week’s matchup against the top-ranked Tigers.