Larkin and McHenry were locked in a good battle until the second quarter of Friday's season opener at Memorial Field in Elgin.
Then the visiting Warriors capitalized on 3 second-quarter Larkin turnovers and the Royals' porous run defense to turn a 12-10 deficit after a quarter into a 60-20 blowout.
The win was the first for new McHenry coach Dave D'Angelo, whose team scored 5 touchdowns and scored 34 points in the second quarter alone.
"I'm very pleased with the effort," D'Angelo said. "We were in for a battle there in the first quarter, but our offensive line really came through."
McHenry ran the ball 28 times for 288 yards behind linemen Nick Bauer, Brad Mischke, Matt Tenhagen, Wayne McCracken, Micah Kohn, and the yardage came in chunks. Larkin allowed 7 rushes for 20 or more yards en route to surrendering 395 yards total.
"Defensively, there was a lot of miscommunication in the secondary and with the linebackers, but I'm not going to blame it on one thing," Larkin senior two-way lineman Alex Schabert said. "We all had a bad game up front."
Larkin trailed 10-6 late in the first quarter, but a 17-yard scoring run by senior Mo Jackson with 5.9 seconds left staked the Royals to their only lead of the game, 12-10, following the missed extra point.
McHenry answered immediately as the second quarter opened, advancing 61 yards in 5 plays. Senior fullback John Konstantelos capped the march with a 21-yard run. Jesse Guajardo's 2-point conversion run put McHenry ahead 18-12.
Then came young Larkin's mistakes. On the next play from scrimmage, first-time varsity quarterback Kemmerin Blalark dropped back to pass but was in the process of being pulled down by McHenry senior end Dennis Quitalig when he attempted to push a pass unconventionally. That wounded duck was intercepted at the Larkin 39-yard line by McHenry outside linebacker Nate Rueckemann.
"All the pressure really helped up," Rueckemann said. "It was nice to be in the right place at the right time."
"He knew the mistakes he made a soon as he made them and came to the sideline," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said of his inexperienced quarterback. "He said, 'I should have thrown the ball out of bounds or I should have eaten it and taken the sack.' We have the athletes to go downfield when we need to, we just have to trust everybody."
The Warriors scored 5 plays later on a 12-yard screen pass from Kyle Snedeker to Konstantelos to take a 25-12 lead.
Blalark fumbled an exchange on Larkin's next possession and McHenry recovered at the Royals' 20-yard line. Two plays later, Konstantelos was in the end zone after a 13-yard jaunt.
Larkin pulled within 32-20 with 4:41 left in the second quarter on Damion Clemons' 6-yard run, but McHenry scored again 5 plays later on a 13-yard pass from Kyle Snedeker to Jake Braskett, upping the Warriors' lead to 39-20.
The backbreaker came when McHenry junior Payton Lykins picked off a tipped Blalark pass at his own 42-yard line and scampered 58 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown with 33 seconds left in the half. Korey Partenheimer's extra point lifted McHenry to a 46-20 halftime lead.
Konstantelos finished with 103 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 carries. He also caught 3 balls for 47 yards and a touchdown. Guajardo rushed 8 times for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns.
With Larkin trailing most of the game, senior running back Mo Jackson handled the ball only 9 times for 37 yards. Blalark completed 8 of 15 attempts for 131 yards. His first varsity pass was a beauty: a 47-yard, first-quarter bomb in stride to Ben Cruz for a touchdown. That pass pulled Larkin within 7-6 at the time. The Royals rushed for 181 yards in 40 attempts.
"We're going to reload, refocus and move on to the next one," Scianna said. "The magic number is still five."