Huntley knew it needed to make some defensive adjustments going into the second half against Kaneland Friday night.
The Red Raiders did, starting with an increased pass rush and after trailing 35-7 at halftime came as close as 35-28. The Knights composed themselves and left Huntley with a 52-35 nonconference victory.
"They came out in the third quarter and they showed a lot of guts," Knights' coach Tom Fedderly said. "They got some turnovers and sacks. They were bringing pressure."
With constant pressure from the front 7, Huntley's defense forced turnovers on the first 2 Kaneland (2-0) possessions of the second half.
Eddie Dalton and Tyler Schwartz picked off Knights' quarterback Drew David on successive possessions to set up a passing and rushing touchdown from Huntley's Kameron Sallee.
Sallee added another passing touchdown to Jake Lackovic allowing Huntley 21 unanswered points to cut Kaneland's lead to 35-28.
"You think you can come back and with the game," said Huntley linebacker Brandon Mabry, who had a sack in the third quarter. "We started applying more pressure to get the quarterback out of the pocket and to throw the ball up in the air."
David did respond to throwing 2 interceptions by leading Kaneland on 3 different scoring drives in the fourth quarter. Twice running back Nate Dyer pounded the ball in for touchdowns and Matt Rodriguez added a 25-yard field goal to cushion Kaneland's lead back to 52-28 before the Red Raiders scored with 2 seconds left in the game.
"I thought they did a terrific job coming in with a game plan," Red Raiders coach John Hart said. "(In the second half) our defense reacted exactly the way we wanted to. We were going out to win every possession."
Kaneland was nearly unstoppable in the first half. The Knights scored on all 5 possessions including David and wide receiver Zack Martinelli (6 catches, 81 yards) hooking up 3 times on scoring passes. Martinelli caught touchdown passes of 7, 10 and 11 yards and finished the first half with 5 catches for 79 yards.
"On offense we were firing on all cylinders in the first half," Martinelli said. "(In the second half) the defensive line tipped some balls up in the air. They made some plays."
David also found Dylan Nauert on a 10-yard pass with 7:18 left in the first quarter to put Kaneland up14-0. The junior 8 for 18 with 207 yards in the first half and finished with 325 total yards through the air.
Sallee had 177 passing yards with 139 in the second half.