TROY – In Homer's Iliad, ancient Greek warriors used a Trojan horse to enter and destroy the city-state of Troy.
A gang of present-day Warriors from Lincoln-Way West did not need a Trojan horse to enter the city of Troy, Illinois.
After a four-hour bus ride down Interstate 55, the present-day Warriors stormed onto the field and sacked the Knights, 31-7, in Saturday's Class 5A second-round game.
Led by their tailback, Gabe Montalvo, Lincoln-Way West (9-2) reached the quarterfinals for the third consecutive year in 5A. Montalvo ran through, over and around the Knights for 209 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns. For good measure, he caught a pair of passes for 35 yards.
"We really came after Triad," Montalvo said. "We knew they were a good team and ran at them with our strength against their strength. My offensive line was great again, and I was able to read my blocks. And we can always rely on our outstanding defense, which totally shut Triad down.
"I just want to sit back and enjoy this win. We will get back to work Monday."
West took the opening kickoff and marched 79 yards in five plays, capped by a 56-yard Montalvo burst for a 7-0 lead with 10:30 left in the first quarter. Junior quarterback Connor Lowman (7 for 13, 147 yards, touchdown) started after missing last week's game against Dunlap with a shoulder injury. He hit Dylan McHale (three catches, 34 yards) twice on the scoring drive.
The Warriors then marched 65 in seven plays to make it 14-0 on a 3-yard Montalvo touchdown. Last week's hero, junior Cal Pohrte (2 for 4, 27 yards), hit tight end Tom LaBerry for 22 yards on a swing pass to the Triad 3. Montalvo scored on the next play with 55 seconds left in the first quarter.
On a fourth-and-1 at the Triad 34, Montalvo busted a 34-yard scoring run to give the Warriors a 21-0 lead with 2:09 left in the half.
With 15 seconds on the clock, Warriors linebacker Cortez Michalski separated Triad's Ethan Scalopek from the ball. Trey Telez scooped up the fumble and raced 40 yards to the Triad 12. On the final play of the half, Kevin Siemeck kicked a 30-yard field goal for a 24-0 halftime lead. It was Siemeck's first field goal of the season.
"That is quite a load off me," Siemeck said. "It really felt good to finally hit one."
With 8:37 left in the third quarter, Lowman fired a 51-yard scoring strike to Jake Mauney to stretch the lead to 31-0. Mauney caught four passes for 85 yards.
"I had a great week of therapy with the shoulder," Lowman said. "It felt fine out there today. We played outstanding on both sides of the ball. Gabe [Montalvo] and the offensive line were great again, and Dylan [McHale] and Jake [Mauney] made fine catches."
With 6:18 left in the third quarter, Scalopek raced 21 yards for the Triad touchdown.
Michalski, Telez, Deven Reed and the entire Warriors defense stuffed the Triad triple option. Adam Nelson, a 1,600-yard rusher, was held to minus-1 yard on 10 carries.
"We had another great week of practice," Telez said. "We totally shut down the triple option. The coaches had us well prepared to do the job.
"I should have scored on the fumble recovery. I have to work on my scoop-and-score method. We want to win next week and do something no Lincoln-Way West team has ever done, win a quarterfinal game."
"This was a great win for us," Reed said. "We were always in position to make the play on defense."
The Warriors will host Peoria (10-1) next Saturday, time to be determined.
"Every win now is a big win," West coach Dave Ernst said. "Our defense is just so good and so fast and totally shut down a good Triad team. Again, what can you say about Gabe [Montalvo]. He is a great athlete.
"We really want to win next week. West has never won a quarterfinal game."