8A playoffs | Naperville Central shuts out Downers South

After going 4-5 in 2012, there's a more pleasant aura around the Naperville Central football program this fall.

The Redhawks won five a row to begin this season, and their smiles grew wider Friday thanks to a 36-0 victory against Downers Grove South in a first-round Class 8A playoff game in Naperville. They will play at Homewood Flossmoor next weekend.

"The seniors on this team remember that, and we didn't want to go out the same way," said receiver Ben Andreas, who had two receiving scores and another on the ground. "Our hopes have been bigger than just making the playoffs. We want to make a run."

The No. 7 seed Redhawks (7-3) took a 10-0 lead into halftime on Connor Assalley's 26-yard field goal and a 15-yard Kevin Clifford scoring run. Two third-quarter Jake Kolbe-to-Andreas scoring connections (19 and 31 yards) stretched the advantage to 23-0. Andreas added a 52-yard run early in the fourth. Clifford's 2-yard plunge capped the scoring.

The Redhawks' defense was stout from the get-go, yielding 135 total yards and holding halfback Alec Arvanitakis to 28 yards on 23 carries. The best offensive play for the No. 10 seed Mustangs (6-4) was Javon Turner's 23-yard run off a fake punt late in the third quarter.

"When there are a lot of guys around a back, like tonight, he's not going to get very far," said senior defensive back Dan Dolehide, whose third-quarter interception set up Andreas' first touchdown catch. "Our coaches put us in the right spots and we just made plays."

Player of the game: Ben Andreas, Naperville Central, 5 catches, 80 yards, 2 TDs; 5 carries, 61 yards, 1 TD.

Key performers: Naperville Central — Jake Kolbe, 10-for-20,144 yards, 2 TDs; Kevin Clifford, 13 carries, 90 yards, 1 TD. Downers Grove South — Jordan Skach, 10-for-20, 65 yards.

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