Conant running back Bryson Brown doesn't need a lot of room. And when he has just a few spare inches, he slides through the holes like a waterbug.
Brown found those openings to help lead the Cougars past Elk Grove 24-14 in Hoffman Estates on Friday night to claim the President's trophy for the second consecutive year.
"I just found the holes that the offensive line got for me," said Brown, who scored on a 10 yard pass and a 4-yard run. "I just ran to where I could see an opening."
Brown, who is 5-foot 6 and 155 pounds, slid his way through a sea of blue and white jerseys, finding any tiny lane he could squeeze through. He rushed for 73 yards on 19 along with 89 yards on 9 receptions.
"He is the kind of back that is going to do those kinds of things as the game gets longer and people start to get tired," Conant coach Bill Modelski said. "The seams get a little bigger. Although every seam is big to him."
Brown looked spectacular in the fourth quarter right after Elk Grove had tied the game at 14-14 with 10:30 to play.
Brown started the ensuing possession with a dazzling 35-yard run. Later he would catch a 13-yard pass and then score on a 4-yard run to cap a 5-play, 665 yard drive with Brown accounting for 57 of those yards.
"Bryson was phenomenal," said Conant quarterback Danny Modelski, who was pretty sharp himself, completing 25-of-35 passes for 271 yards and 2 touchdowns. "He was amazing on a screen pass where it was third-and-22 and he got us a first down. He was a game-changer tonight."
After Brown's touchdown put Conant (2-0) ahead 21-14, the Cougars' Kevin Copher recovered a squib quick at the Elk Grove 39. Conant moved the ball to the 4, where Drew Wentzel blasted a 21-yard field goal to seal the win.
"We are showing some resiliency, "Bill Modelski said. "We are facing adversity and it is good for your football team to do this. To play hard-fought games helps you in the long run."
Elk Grove made sure the game was a battle.
The Grenadiers (1-1) opened the scoring with 8:59 left in the first half on a 22-yard run by Matt Wary. It was set up on a 40-yard pass play from Adam O'Malley to John Pass.
Conant then took advantage of a fumbled punt to tie the game.
Two plays after Copher fell on a loose ball at the Elk Grove, Modelski connected with Elias Gardener on a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:35 left in the first half.
Modelski then used his feet to help set up the Cougars next touchdown.
On three separate occasions Modelski scrambled for extra time to find an open receiver. After connecting with Mike Kos for a 22-yard gain and Copher for a 23-yard gain, Modelski rolled out to his left and tossed a shuttle pass to Brown, who then scored from 10-yards out to make it 14-7 with 2:07 left in the first half.
"Plays just didn't develop," Modelski said. "Their defense did a good job of covering us. So I had to move around and find someone. And our receivers know when I move around they know where to be. It worked out in our favor."
O'Malley, who was 17-for-30 for 221 yards, drove his Grens to the Conant 5. But on third-and-goal with 36 seconds left, Conant's DeAngelo McBride snatched a slant in pass at the goal line and returned it 67 yards to end the threat.
"It was a big play," said McBride, whose only catch on the day was that interception. "I just sat there pretty much right in the little gap right there. He just threw me the ball."
O'Malley, who was blitzed on almost every play by Kos, Justin Perez, Anthony Pitlaver and Palmer Graham, got a bit of revenge early in the fourth quarter. With the Cougars in an all-out blitz, O'Malley fired a 32-yard strike to Pass to tie the game at 14-14.
But from there Conant went to their waterbug to put the game away.
"I thought we had a really good chance to win the ballgame," Elk Grove coach Larry Calhoun said. "We just did not execute when it was time to execute. We had two big momentum changers. We just can't have games where we score 14 points."