When something works, stick with it. That axiom worked for Elk Grove in the second half, and it worked for Hersey when it mattered most, in both overtimes of the Mid-Suburban East football opener for both schools Friday.
The visiting Grenadiers overcame a 20-6 halftime deficit, tying the game at 20 by giving the ball to Mikey Maize, who moved from his starting linebacker spot early in the game to add some muscle to the Elk Grove running attack. He responded with 111 yards and 3 touchdowns, on 20 carries.
Hersey, hosting Senior Night at Roland Goins Stadium, stuck with its two offensive threats, quarterback Quinn Orlandi and running back Mario Thomas.
Thomas scored a touchdown in both overtimes, both from 10 yards out. His first, followed by Ed Miklasz' conversion gave the Huskies (2-3, 1-0) a 27-20 lead, which Maize countered on a fourth and 1 run. Alex Tinkoff tied the game at 27 with the conversion and then put the Grens (2-3, 0-1) ahead 30-27 when he kicked a 27-yard fourth-down field goal.
On the first play of Hersey's possession, Thomas ran the same play around his left end and scored standing up to give the Huskies the 33-30 victory.
"The offensive line said, 'Let's go at them,'" said Hersey coach Dragan Teonic.
"Coach called the play, I read the keys, saw the hole and busted through," Thomas said. "(In the second overtime) we went out and ran the same play, and Jim Olsen made a great block."
Thomas (127 yards in 25 carries) and Orlandi (11-of-20 for 159 yards, 2 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing score) gave credit to linemen Jim Thomsen, Ed Beyer, Bob Jaacks, Lendell Hargrove and Matt Thoms.
After each team traded early first quarter touchdowns, Hersey capitalized on a couple of Elk Grove miscues to grab the 20-6 halftime lead. Matt Korff recovered a muffed punt early in the second quarter, and Orlandi finished the 5-play 30-yard drive with an 18-yard scoring pass to Hunter Rollins.
Hersey got good field possession again, when Tinkoff went to a knee to field a low snap in punt formation. This time, Orlandi found David Jackowski in the end zone on a 5-yard scoring pass.
"I saw there was no one over Jackowski, and I knew he'd be open," Orlandi said of the audible he called at the line.
Elk Grove got its ground game going in the second half, when Maize gained 89 of his 111 yards and scored on runs of 11 and 21 yards.
"They were doing some things to take away our bread and butter plays, so we tweaked the blocking schemes (at halftime)," said Elk Grove coach Larry Calhoun.
"Mike is our starting middle linebacker," Calhoun said. "Nobody runs any tougher than Mike, which is what we needed tonight. I'm very proud of how we played in the second half. I believed until the last play we were gonna win the ballgame, and I like to believe (the team) did, too."
"It's exciting for them to get this win," Teonic said. "Even with a 1-3 record, we were in position to win those games."
"We've had a tough schedule, and we know what we're capable of," Orlandi said. "We knew we were better."
"When the time came, we made our plays," Thomas said.