NEW LENOX – Senior running back Gabe Montalvo scored three touchdowns to help Lincoln-Way West defeat SouthWest Suburban Red foe Thornridge, 54-6, Friday.
Montalvo scored West’s first three touchdowns on runs of 10, 36, and 21 yards as the Warriors (6-1, 4-1) pulled out to a 20-0 lead over the Falcons (1-6, 0-5) in the first quarter.
West scored 20 points in the second quarter to take a 40-0 halftime lead. Backup quarterback Cal Pohrte threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Gerardy as coach Dave Ernst worked in his second-team offense in the quarter.
Starting quarterback Connor Lowman returned in the quarter to throw a 7-yard scoring pass to tight end Ben Zordani and defensive back Cameron Gavin completed the scoring by intercepting Falcons quarterback Cornell Ousley and returning it 50 yards for a touchdown.
Montalvo finished with 116 yards rushing on nine carries in one half of work. His offensive linemen – Bryan Brokop, Nathaniel Henry, Brett Bergman, Jason Lucinski, Justin Witt and tight end Zordani – blew open huge holes for Montalvo to run through.
“I’d like to say that we have one of the best lines in the state,” Montalvo said. “They make my job easier. I paid attention to my blocks. I had huge lanes to run through, and the wide receivers were making their blocks in the secondary so it was easy to get through.”
Ernst agreed with Montalvo’s assessment of the offensive line.
“Our offensive line is outstanding,” Ernst said. “We have two three-year starters in Brokop and Witt, and we have Nate Henry starting as a junior and he’s already getting a lot of Division I attention from Purdue and
“Jason Lucinski, the center, made a couple of great blocks today. Brett Bergman, the left guard, has been fantastic. A lot of people see the big three [Brokop, Witt and Henry], but those two other guys are playing really, really well.”
The Warriors’ first-half scoring drives all started inside Thornridge territory thanks to a tough West defense.
Linebackers Trey Telez and Danny Allen recorded sacks while defensive backs Cody Conry and Scott Phillips added interceptions.
The Warriors held the Falcons to 93 yards of offense. Meanwhile, West rushed for 229 yards and passed for 79.
The Warriors are safely in the playoffs by notching their sixth win. They finish with two tough SWS Red opponents, Bradley-Bourbonnais and Lincoln-Way North.
“We have to protect the ball and not turn it over,” Ernst said. “We can’t give up big plays. We have to keep doing the things we’re doing in the kicking game. From here on out, it’s going to be tough.”