The interception by sophomore Hunter Williams that ended the first half wasn't the only great play Jacobs made in a 42-19 victory at McHenry Friday night, but it symbolized the tenacity with which the Golden Eagles played throughout their fourth straight victory to open the season.
Jacobs already led 21-0 late in the second quarter, but McHenry quarterback Robert Tonyan was driving the Warriors' spread offense down the field, trying desperately to get his team on the scoreboard on homecoming night.
On second-and-5 from the Jacobs' 6-yard line, Tonyan threw an incompletion into the end zone, leaving just 2.6 seconds on the clock for a final play. That incompletion drew a loud cheer from the Jacobs bench, where every player was focused on the game and rooting for the defense to not give another inch.
On third-and-6, Tonyan, a right-hander, rolled out to his left and eyed Bryan Wegner, who was running parallel along the back line of the end zone.
Williams, competing in just his second varsity game, sniffed out the plan and swooped in to make the second of Jacobs' 4 interceptions on the night.
"They were keying on him the whole time so I just stuck with him," Williams said. "It feels great. He's probably the best quarterback in our league and we picked him four times."
"The pick was huge because it would have been 21-7 and it's a different game," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said.
The Williams interception ended a stellar first half for Jacobs (4-0, 1-0), which outgained McHenry (2-2, 1-1) 237 yards to 65 through two quarters.
Jacobs got an early lift from Evan Bishop. Not only did the 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior block a McHenry punt to give the offense the ball at the Warriors' 12-yard line, four plays later he caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Jason Judson that gave the Golden Eagles the lead with 5:07 left in the first quarter.
Penalties, a recurring problem this season, slowed the offense down for much of the first half. The Eagles were flagged 15 times for 130 yards overall, including 10 flags in the first half.
However, after the defense forced a 3-and-out by Tonyan and Co., a short punt gave the Golden Eagles a short field. They cashed in three plays later on a 20-yard scamper around the right end by Caz Zyks. The senior tailback rushed for 119 yards and 2 scores on 14 carries.
"We did real well with our blocking," Zyks said. "We knew where we were going to go with the ball. We saw that the outside was open and we just got rolling from there."
After the Jacobs defense held again in three plays, the offense drove 89 yards in 6 plays, keyed by a one-handed, 39-yard reception by Antonio Dunner and a 35-yard screen pass to Zyks.
Wright scored on a 1-yard plunge with 1:15 left in the second quarter, and Matt Fahey's point after put Jacobs ahead 21-0.
Dunner had 5 catches for 111 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown reception in the second half. Judson completed 12-of-18 attempts for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns and he ran for another.
The Jacobs defense kept the momentum rolling in the third quarter. Junior Greg Sidor intercepted Tonyan at midfield on the opening possession of the half, and the offense capitalized by driving 45 yards in 5 plays, capped by Judson's 4-yard keeper. Fahey's kick made it 28-0 Jacobs with 8:43 left in the third quarter and the rout was on.
Jacobs now awaits its homecoming game against Cary-Grove next Friday.
"We're very proud. It's great to be 4-0," Mitz said. " We all know what we've got facing us the next game. It's going to be exciting."