BOLINGBROOK, Ill. – Bolingbrook senior linebacker Antonio Morrison had seen enough drama between his Raiders and Downers Grove South over the last three years.
When he was a freshman, Downers Grove South pulled out a 21-20 win. As a sophomore, Bolingbrook won 16-14 in the regular season, but fell 22-20 in the playoffs. Last season, Bolingbrook won 28-21.
In three years, the two teams had each won two games and lost two, and a total of 12 points had decided those four games.
Having played in all those nail-biters, Morrison was relieved Bolingbrook took early control of Saturday’s Class 8A quarterfinal against Downers Grove South and never looked back. The Raiders defeated visiting Downers Grove South 47-19 and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2001.
Bolingbrook will travel to Naperville Central next week.
“We had a history,” Morrison said of Downers Grove South. “I’ve been playing Downers Grove all my four years of my high school career. Every game has been close. We weren’t surprised it was a blowout. It’s finally good to actually blow them out.”
Defensively, the Raiders devoted most of their entire attention to Downers Grove South running back Josh Williams. Williams had gone over 2,200 yards in last week’s win and was the primary reason the Mustangs were in the quarterfinals.
“We knew he was going to get the ball pretty much,” Morrison said. “We knew if we took him away we were going to win the game. The whole week the whole defense was just flying to the ball. We had all 11 flying to the ball, stripping the ball, so we played fast tonight.”
Williams had no chance on Saturday. Bolingbrook’s defense got to him time after time just as he got out of the backfield. In the first half, he gained 21 yards on seven carries.
The second half was better for him, but it was too late. Williams finished with 135 yards and one touchdown.
While Downers Grove South’s offense struggled to move the ball, Bolingbrook and its quarterback Aaron Bailey seemed to do whatever they wanted against the Mustangs’ defense. The Raiders led 21-3 at halftime and built that advantage to 47-3 in the second half.
Bailey rushed for 128 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. He added touchdown runs of 40 and 44 yards in the second half. He finished with 212 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Bailey did more passing during his postgame interview than he did in the game. Bailey dished out the credit to everyone, but himself.
“It’s a blessing,” said Bailey, who was 0-for-2 passing. “Thank God for my offensive line and defense. The defense made big stops for us. The offensive line made huge holes for me. It was a great team victory.”
Instead, others praised the elusive Bailey.
“We know he’s going to score and put the ball in the end zone,” Morrison said. “We already know he’s going to do that. We just get ready for the next series and see how fast he can put in the end zone.”
Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow said, “He’s one of the best around. The kid’s phenomenal. He’s amazing.”
Downers Grove South coach John Belskis didn’t give any excuses for his team’s defense. He simply felt Bolingbrook was the more dominant team.
“The better team won tonight,” Belskis said. “There have been times where we ended our season and not played well. We can look ourselves in the mirror and say we got beat by a better team tonight. Coach Ivlow has done just a great job. Their X’s are better than our O’s.”
Bolingbrook running back Omar Stover rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
Downers Grove South quarterback A.J. Simoncelli threw a touchdown pass to Kaylon Miller. Anthony Farinella made a 32-yard field goal in the first quarter.