After two consecutive losses, Grayslake Central immediately found itself back in unwanted territory Friday night in Woodstock.
Running back Vinnie Culhane fumbled on the game's first play; which led to a Woodstock touchdown and a quick 7-0 deficit for the Rams.
The Rams, however, rewrote the script and earned a 30-14 victory over the host Blue Streaks and improved to 3-2 overall and 3-0 in the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division.
"How you handle adversity is a big part of high school football," said Grayslake Central coach Nick Goshe. "The handling of that adversity that we gave to ourselves, the self-inflicted wounds, was a big thing to overcome."
One player also overcoming adversity in this game was Rams running back Joey Valdivia. Held out of last week's game against Jacobs due to a leg injury, Valdivia was stopped short of a first down early in the first quarter. He did not play the rest of the quarter.
When Valdivia returned to the field in the second quarter, he threw a lead block which allowed fellow running back Jahard Nelson (10 carries, 55 yards) to score from 30 yards out to even the score at 7-7. Valdivia (5 carries, 25 yards) later added his own 5-yard touchdown run to put the Rams ahead.
"I know he hurt himself," said running back Vinnie Culhane, who led the Rams with 128 yards rushing. "But he pushed himself through to come to practice, and I am glad that he gave it all that he had and threw the lead block for Jahard Nelson on that key play."
"Our backs are asked to do everything," said Goshe. "They help each other out as well as themselves. Joey's blocking is part of the gig and we asked him to do those things - and he did, and we scored."
Grayslake Central's defense started the second half scoring by stuffing Woodstock running back Drew Walkington for a safety. On the ensuing drive, Culhane raced 47 yards to put the Rams up 22-7.
The Rams' defense was not finished scoring as defensive back Bryant Jennings scooped up a Walkington fumble and returned it 93 yards for a touchdown.
"The ball just popped right to me and I just took it back," said Jennings. "We (the defense) all played very well and we followed the game plan. We all played our hearts out tonight."
Woodstock (1-4, 1-2 in Fox Division) quarterback Pat Santucci rushed for a game-high 145 yards.