Maine West and Highland Park were tied at halftime of their Central Suburban North contest on Friday night on the Warriors' home field.
It appeared Maine West had momentum on its side too, after Kyle Cook pounced on a fumble in the end zone to tie the score at 14 with 6:58 to play in the first half. But the Warriors' opening drive of the second half stalled, and Highland Park leaned on their power running attack, led by tailback Andrew Sledd, to score 28 straight second-half points and ultimately win 42-21.
Sledd, who scored 4 touchdowns in the game, ripped off touchdown runs from 71 and 39 yards out in the third quarter propel the Giants to a comfortable lead.
"It gives us a lot of momentum going into (when we are on) defense, and the next offensive series," Sledd said of his long touchdown runs.
He finished with 190 yards on 27 carries. 162 of those yards came in the second half.
"We just ran the same play over and over again, and they didn't adjust," Sledd said of his second-half success. "So it just kept working."
In addition to Sledd, Highland Park running back Noah Pickus ran for 81 yards on 7 carries and also had a touchdown.
"I thought we played a lot harder in the second half and really went right at them," Highland Park coach Hal Chiodo said. "That was a good feeling as a coach and as a team."
Chiodo said he went with a power running attack in the second half as opposed to the misdirection game the Giants (1-4, 1-0) were trying to play in the first half because of the sloppy field conditions and wet footballs with rain falling for the entire first half.
Maine West running back John Manicke carried the ball 25 times for 125 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Matt Swanson carried it 15 times for 84 yards in the Warriors' option attack.
Swanson provided the biggest offensive play of the game for the Warriors with a 61-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Maine West (1-4, 0-1) coach Chris Hare felt that in addition to not being able to slow down Sledd, whom he call a great running back, in the second half, his team needs to eliminate penalties and mistakes that put them in negative situations.
"We're just not good enough where we can come back from a holding penalty or negative situations," Hare said. "We feel confident that we are moving the ball, but it would be nice if we put the ball in the end zone more."