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David Edwards, of Downers Grove North, hands the ball off to Brandon Salter against Thornton at Thornton, Friday, November 2nd, 2012 in Harvey, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Another time, another situation, and the pair of 92-yard touchdown plays Thornton quarterback JoWahn Brown combined on with wide receiver Jauan Wesley during the final three minutes might have gone down in playoff folklore.
Instead, it was window dressing in a game already out of reach.
“Just started executing too late, I guess,” a sad Brown quietly said after the Wildcats crash-landed Friday night in a 29-13 second-round Class 7A loss to visiting Downers Grove North.
Indeed, the two scores came too little, too late. North built a 29-0 lead before Thornton was able to find the end zone.
A power surge knocked out the scoreboard for a time, but it was running thunder that knocked out the Wildcats.
Downers Grove North (7-4), eighth-seeded and having already shocked No. 1 seed Batavia, stunned No. 5 Thornton with the powerful rushing duo of Kyle Leto and Brandon Salter, who combined for 194 yards rushing and each scored a touchdown.
The Wildcats, who turned the ball over twice in the first six minutes and trailed 19-0 at halftime, saw their season end at 8-3.
Until the late back-to-back highlight-reel plays, the best moments of the night for the Wildcats probably were their first two plays from scrimmage, runs for six and eight yards by Jamal Towns.
On the next play, Brown’s pass to D’Andre Fuller resulted in a three-yard loss. Worse yet, on the next snap Brown was intercepted by North’s Michael Dashut.
The Trojans moved the ball from Thornton’s 24 to the 7 before a fumble recovery by the Wildcats’ Ronnie Cross stopped the threat.
Two plays later, though, Thornton receiver Jason Towns caught a pass, but fumbled after a 12-yard gain.
This time North cashed in, scoring on its first snap on a 17-yard run by Leto.
On their next possession, the Wildcats went back to Jamal Towns for runs of 15 and two yards. But back-to-back sacks of Brown stalled the drive.
North followed with a 76-yard drive, every yard gained on the ground. One of those rushes was a crusher, as North punter Gareth Jones faked from the Thornton 49 and gained six yards for a first down.
“And we were playing for the fake, but they still got it,” Thornton coach Bill Mosel said later. “It was just one of those things.”
North later scored on the drive on a 2-yard sneak by quarterback David Edwards, and added another TD on a 3-yard run by Salter to take a 19-0 lead into intermission.
For Thornton, it was simply a frustrating night on both sides of the ball. Brown wasn’t able to even target Wesley until a seven-yard play on the Wildcats’ first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Brown spent a lot of time fleeing tacklers. He was sacked five times.
North added to its lead in the second half, scoring on a 30-yard field goal by Jones and a 2-yard run by Edwards.
“They did a good job,” Mosel said. “They took it to us. They handled us up front, and you’ve got to take your hats off to them.”