SOUTH HOLLAND – Lincoln-Way West put its fate on the shoulders of its offensive line Friday, and it delivered.
Gabe Montalvo rushed for 196 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, propelling the Warriors to a 41-0 SouthWest Suburban Conference Red road win over Thornwood (1-5, 0-4).
The victory means Lincoln-Way West (5-1, 3-1) moves a step closer to a playoff spot.
“That’s kind of our thing,” West coach Dave Ernst said of leaning on the offensive line. “We have a good offensive line. When things get tough, we usually lean on them to get it done and they did tonight.”
“I just rallied everyone together and tried to get everybody going,” senior captain and offensive lineman Bryan Brokop said. “As a whole, we just pounded them and came together as an offensive line.”
Montalvo did most of his damage in the first half. The senior had 156 yards and five touchdowns during the first two quarters and eclipsed 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season.
“He was ticked off today about some things that happened and he took it to the field,” Ernst said. “He’s a great back. He wants the ball more and more, and we’re going to ride him.”
“Gabe is an animal,” Brokop said. “He keeps fighting. His yards after contact were insane tonight.”
West, which is ranked No. 10 in Class 5A by the Associated Press, did not punt in the first half. Instead, Montalvo ran for scores of 2, 18, 23, 1 and 7 yards.
The Warrior defense forced two first-half turnovers. Matthew Murphy had an interception and Keaton McCahill recovered a fumble at the Thunderbird 10, which set up a score. Thornwood had 16 yards of offense until its final drive of the game.
In a somber moment, Thornwood’s James Walker III was carted off the field via ambulance after breaking his leg midway through the first quarter. Cal Pohrte ran 3 yards for the final score with 2:08 left.
“We had a tough loss last week against Thornton,” Brokop said. “We had to get this win to boost our confidence. Now, we have to keep going.”
“We’re just trying to get better every week,” Ernst said. “We have five wins now. We’re not sure if we have enough (playoff) points. But, if we can get six next week, we’ll get into the playoffs and, hopefully, make a run.”
“We can’t worry about the playoffs now,” Brokop said. “We have to finish off the season strong.”