BATAVIA – The Batavia football team was on the verge of blowing out defending Class 8A state runners-up Glenbard North on Saturday night, only to see the Panthers spring back to life and threaten to steal the game late.
Bulldogs junior Noah Frazier made sure that didn't happen.
Frazier sacked Panthers quarterback Brett Gasiorowski on both third and fourth down of Glenbard North's final possession with the Panthers in Batavia territory seeking to tie or take the lead, preserving Batavia's 29-26 win at Bulldog Stadium.
Frazier's second sack allowed the Bulldogs' offense to take over at their own 41-yard line and eventually wind the final two minutes off the clock.
"This was a heck of a battle here," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said of a penalty-laden game that took more than three hours to complete. "You had two teams that sort of wore each other out at that point and time, someone's got to make a play, and Noah Frazier, what a great job.
"Noah's one of the hardest working, strongest young men in our high school. The things that he's capable of doing will just become more and more evident as the year goes on."
A versatile player – Piron said Frazier is capable of chipping in at linebacker, defensive end and offensively at tight end – Frazier thought late blitzing by the Bulldogs paid dividends.
It was Batavia's second straight narrow, season-opening win against the highly regarded Panthers after Batavia nipped Glenbard North, 42-41, last year in Carol Stream.
"It was a huge game for us because we beat them last year but I don't know if anyone really gave us the credit we deserved last year," Frazier said. "They weren't going to overlook us at all this year. They knew we were coming. They were going to want revenge for last year. It was just a huge game to start the season off against a great program, and we got a great win. The team played great."
Batavia trailed, 12-7, at halftime, but excellent field position during the third quarter paved the way for the home team to seize control.
The Bulldogs took over at the Glenbard North 35-yard line early in the third after the Panthers were lucky to get off their punt following a botched snap.
A 14-yard quarterback keeper by senior Micah Coffey set up Anthony Scaccia's 1-yard touchdown run, and Coffey hit Jordan Zwart on a two-point conversion pass for a 15-12 Bulldogs lead.
Batavia senior Michael Moffatt recovered a Glenbard North fumble on the Panthers' ensuing possession. The Bulldogs capitalized once more, as Moffatt reeled in a slick, 45-yard touchdown reception from Coffey, pinning the football on Panthers defensive back Robert Collier's back for a moment before grabbing control of the ball.
"That was unique," Moffatt said. "I've made a couple one-hand catches, but never off of a guy."
Moffatt's touchdown and Danny Aharoni's extra point made it 22-12 Batavia with 4:25 left in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs' third quarter surge wasn't complete.
More punt snap woes for the Panthers supplied favorable field position yet again late in the quarter, and this time senior Anthony Thielk was the ultimate beneficiary, barreling in from 4 yards out on his lone rush of the night. Batavia led 29-12 by the end of the quarter.
While the Panthers' deficit forced them to deviate from pounding the ball to Northwestern-bound running back Justin Jackson, who rushed for 181 of his 218 yards in the first half, the Panthers' passing game found traction in the fourth quarter.
That, combined with a successful onside kick, made for a tense stretch run until Frazier came to the forefront on the Bulldogs' late defensive stand.
The game's kickoff time was pushed back twice – from Friday night to Saturday afternoon because of a lightning storm and from 1 p.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Saturday to give the field more time to dry.
"Every time we came to the high school, when we came here [Friday night] we were ready to play, [Saturday morning] we were ready to play," Moffatt said. "Everyone never really lost their game face, which I was proud of. That was big for us to have to face adversity."
Piron called the victory "a great measuring stick for our program," and saluted the program's loyal and resilient fans.
"What a great crowd, after a rainout, on Labor Day weekend to have a crowd come out like this. I mean, everybody could have left town on us, but they didn't," Piron said. "They stayed, and thank you. Thank you, Batavia."
BATAVIA 29, GLENBARD NORTH 26
GBN 0 12 0 14 – 26
Batavia 0 7 22 0 – 29
HOW THEY SCORED
GBN – Jackson 75 run (kick failed), 11:37
B – Zwart 24 pass from Coffey (Aharoni kick), 6:22
GBN – Holbert 20 pass from Gasiorowski (conversion fails), 1:00
B – Scaccia 1 run (conversion pass), 7:31
B – Moffatt 45 pass from Coffey (Aharoni kick), 4:25
B – Thielk 4 run (Aharoni kick), 0:53
GBN – Holbert 36 pass from Gasiorowski (conversion pass), 10:32
GBN – Bosco 9 pass from Gasiorowski (kick failed), 4:41
RUSHING – Glenbard North: Jackson 23-218, Yniguez 2-2, Gasiorowski 7-8. Totals: 32-228. Batavia: Scaccia 19-92, Coffey 5-35, Moneghini 1-minus 2, Thielk 1-4. Totals: 26-129.
PASSING – Glenbard North: Gasiorowski 15-32-166-0. Batavia: Coffey 10-22-2-126.
RECEIVING – Glenbard North: Jackson 2-9, Holbert 5-90, Macgaffey 6-52, Fierro 1-minus 6, Bosco 2-15. Batavia: Mullins 3-29, Moffatt 3-56, Zwart 3-36, Green 1-5. Totals: 10-126.
TOTAL OFFENSE – Glenbard North 394, Batavia 255