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There was a little more emotion coming from the Huntley football team's sideline Friday night.
The Red Raiders had never beaten Crystal Lake South and knew they had a good shot this season. Thanks to 3 touchdown passes from Kam Sallee and key defensive stops, the Red Raiders topped the Gators, 20-19, in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division play in Huntley.
"As you can see, we're extremely excited," Sallee said as Huntley students celebrated on the field with the team.
Huntley (2-2, 2-0) was 0-6 against CL South since joining the FVC in 2003. Sallee connected with Bryce Beschorner on a 53-yard touchdown pass with 8:31 remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 19-19. Sallee hit the point after to give the Red Raiders a 20-19 lead, their first lead of the game.
"What we're trying to do is make strides into big-school football," first-year Huntley coach John Hart said. "Sometimes you have to win real close games."
Quarterback Austin Rogers, who rushed for 139 yards, had a 61-yard touchdown run right up the middle with 1:55 left in the first quarter to give South (1-3, 0-2) a 7-0 lead. Casey Oliver hit a 22-yard field goal to increase the lead to 10-0 with 7:35 remaining in the first half.
Sallee tossed an 8-yard score to Jake Lackovic, but the point after was missed, to cut the deficit to 10-6 with 4:42 left in the second quarter.
Dennis Gardeck intercepted Sallee at the Red Raiders' 14-yard line on Huntley's first possession of the second half. A 9-yard completion from Rogers to Schiller got the ball inside the 1, setting up fourth down. The Gators failed to get the play off and were called for a delay of game. They settled for another 22-yard field goal from Oliver for a 13-6 lead.
"I don't think we saw the play blown in (to begin the play clock)," Gators coach Chuck Ahsmann said of the delay of game penalty. "I thought we had plenty time. The (back judge) was hard to see. Unfortunately, didn't see him counting. That one goes on me."
Sallee hit Garrick McDaniel with a 14-yard touchdown with 3:12 left in the third to tie the game at 13-13. Zevin Clark's 4-yard touchdown run with 57.8 seconds left to give CL South the lead again. But the point after was missed, leaving the score at 19-13, giving Sallee and the Red Raiders the chance to pull out the victory.
Sallee was 10-of-15 passing for 161 yards and also led Huntley with 46 rushing yards. Beschorner had 4 catches for 93 yards.
The Gators, who are two-time defending FVC Valley champions, are now 0-2 in conference play. They had scored just 19 points in their first three games and matched that Friday, but they can feel they left some crucial points on the field against Huntley.
"You've got to play them one at a time now," Ahsmann said. "Our conference is so tough you can't look past anybody."