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Naperville Central quarterback Jake Kolbe looks for an opening against West Aurora in Naperville on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media
Taking the Memorial Stadium turf for the first time since last November’s Class 8A state semifinal loss to eventual champion Bolingbrook, it took a while for Naperville Central to get going.
But once its offense did get rocking and rolling, there wasn’t really much to stop the forthcoming tidal wave. Thanks to a 35-point second half, Naperville Central cruised to a 42-7 DuPage Valley victory over West Aurora on Friday night in Naperville.
Naperville Central junior quarterback Jake Kolbe tossed three touchdown passes, with two of them going to junior wide receiver Ben Andreas, while senior running back Nick Thomas added in two of the Redhawks’ three scores on the ground.
After a scoreless first quarter, which saw both teams misfire on long field-goal attempts, Naperville Central’s offense traveled 69 yards in 10 plays to get on the scoreboard first.
Capping a 10-play, 69-yard drive, Kolbe’s conversion on a fourth-and-eight from the West Aurora 32 midway through the second quarter by finding Andreas streaking down the middle of the field for a 32-yard score not only gave the Redhawks a 7-0 lead, but it seemed to settle everyone down.
“It was big for us to get that lead, get that first play and get us out in front. It really helped us going into the second half,” said Kolbe, who has hooked up with Andreas for five touchdowns in the last two weeks.
If Kolbe’s first touchdown pass of the night to Andreas settled everyone down, senior linebacker Luke Roth’s 52-yard kickoff return to start the second half took things to another level.
Three plays after Roth’s return, Thomas found paydirt for the first time with a 5-yard TD run to boost the Redhawks’ lead to double digits.
After that, the defense took over for Naperville Central (2-2, 2-0).
Intercepting West Aurora quarterback Quintez Jones twice, the Redhawks defense also recovered a Jones’ fumble.
Picking off Jones in the third, sophomore linebacker Bobby McMillan also recovered Jones’ fumble in the fourth — as the Redhawks turned both of those turnovers into touchdowns.
“That (West Aurora) offense is tough to defend, just like Glenbard East was last week. They spread the field,” Naperville Central coach Mike Stine said. “They make you defend the whole thing. They got athletes out there. (Jones) can make plays. It’s a tough thing to defend.”
The Blackhawks (1-3, 0-2) took the game’s opening possession all the way down to the Redhawks’ 29-yard line but couldn’t take advantage as kicker Bryan Watkins’ 46-yard attempt fell short.
Running back Booker Ross had 89 total yards for the Blackhawks, including a 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“It’s the bottom line. Right now, I think it’s the biggest difference between us and some of the elite teams in the conference — they make plays and we don’t,” West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said.