Grayslake Central senior Kacey Adams plays on both sides of the ball for the Rams. And after watching his team take a 28-7 lead to the fourth quarter at home on Thursday night, Adams figured his chances of being a hero of this game was null.
Adams intercepted not one but two Johnsburg passes in the final 90 seconds of this Fox Valley Conference Fox Division game. The winless Skyhawks put a scare into the Rams in the final quarter. However, surprising Central stayed unbeaten with a 28-21 win at home.
"I give it to Johnsburg,'' Adams said. "They just didn't give up.''
After recovering a Central fumble inside Rams territory, the Skyhawks (0-3) drove to Central's 30-yard line with a chance to tie. Instead, an errant pass banged off defensive back Jacob Vargo.
"It bounced off Jacob and I got the high point of the ball,'' Adams said. "I just tried to go as high as I could."
Johnsburg, and its improving quarterback, Nick Brengman (22-41-210 yards, 3 Int), drove as close at the Rams' 14-yard line in the final minute. Again, Adams saved the day.
"That was the last play of the game for them,'' Adams said. "And that one came right to me. This is a whole new season for us. We are focusing on the future."
Johnsburg jumped out first. Completing an 11-play drive in the first quarter, Brengman hit Bailey Stefka with an 8-yard touchdown pass. This game was knotted at halftime. That's because, Rams quarterback, Alex Lennartz, scored the first of his three short touchdown runs. His 4-yard run completed a nearly five-minute drive.
The second half started with a big play from the Rams. It was running back Malcolm Reed (19-171) doing the damage. His 78-yard dash for the touchdown ignited the Central offense.
"We came out fired up for the second half,'' Reed said. "I just cut back and followed my blockers. I just love this group. "
Central coach Ben Ault agreed that Reed's play was a momentum changer.
"Once he got that run in it got our confidence going,'' Ault said. "That came after a tough first half."
Central's offense clearly took this game over in the third quarter. Riding three straight runs by Reed, quarterback Lennartz (3-8, 66 yards) connected with Matt Loeffl on a 35-yard pass. That set up Lennartz's one yard plunge putting the Rams up by two scores.
Just before the half ended, kicker Kevin Dunk set up the final third quarter score. His pooch kick fell safely in the hands of teammate Zaire Lewis.
Lennartz scored his third touchdown of the game in the final seconds of the third quarter.
And then the Skyhawks stormed back only to be stopped by Adams and company.
Things certainly have changed at Central. Last season, Central won only two games.
"The kids who are seniors understood what needed to be done,'' Ault said.
Central will hit the road to Hampshire next Friday.
"We just have good chemistry on this team,'' Adams said. "It's one big family here."