Midway through the second quarter on Friday, Grant linebacker Dan King found himself in a familiar spot -- chasing North Chicago quarterback Amos Mays in the backfield.
When the 6-foot-4 Mays was able to escape the pass rush, the result was often a long gain for the host Warhawks. But this time King turned the tables.
"I ran in for a blitz, the quarterback just rushed away and I dove for his ankles," King said. "When I was on the ground, I could hear the crowd getting loud. So I look up and my buddy Jake is running downfield with the ball."
King didn't exactly force a fumble, but he tripped up Mays, the ball popped loose and sophomore Jake Lostroscio ran it back 30 yards for a touchdown.
Grant trailed 7-0 at the time and the defensive touchdown turned the tide. The Bulldogs stormed back for a 34-14 victory in a game that was more competitive than the final score might indicate.
The result ended North Chicago's perfect start and sets up a showdown next week for the North Suburban Prairie lead when Grant hosts Lakes.
"Our defense did play pretty well, I thought," said Grant coach Kurt Rous. "Granted, we gave up some passing yards. It's tough when that guy is scrambling around to cover for five, six, seven seconds. We had some breakdowns when our linebackers came up and he just dumped it over their heads. But our pass rush was pretty tenacious."
Grant finished with 7 sacks -- 2 each by King and junior Francisco Uribe -- while Mays threw for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Bulldogs (5-1, 3-0) piled up some holding and pass interference penalties, but made up for it with their ground game. Jonathan Wells ran for 132 yards on 18 carries, while quarterback Kyle Whitman added 93 yards on 22 attempts.
North Chicago (5-1, 3-1) got on the board first with a 13-yard pass from Mays to Denzal Clark. After the fumble return tied the score, Grant went up 14-7 at halftime when Wells broke loose for a 30-yard run.
"It was wide open. all green grass," Wells described. "It was beautiful. That was the plan: wear them down, wear them down, wear them down, make big plays."
The Bulldogs opened the second half with a successful onside kick and went into the end zone on a Whitman 1-yard run to make it 22-7. Late in the third quarter, Mays found sophomore Jamero Shelton for a 9-yard TD pass to make it a one-score game. Whitman's 18-yard run stretched the lead to 28-14 with 9:45 left.
North Chicago put together a nice drive, but on fourth down from the 12-yard line, Mays was picked off by sophomore linebacker Tim Hollins. Rous then pulled another surprise with a fake punt that Billy Sullivan ran 63 yards for the game's final score.
"These are high school kids. We were sitting at 5-0 and when you do that, you start to forget the little details sometimes," North Chicago coach Glen Kozlowski said. "We kind of played the way we've been practicing. Grant was ready and they were the better team."