When the halftime horn blew, Grayslake North coach Steve Wood looked at the scoreboard and realized things weren't as bad as they might have seemed.
"It was a one-score game and we were still very much in the ballgame," Wood said of the Knights' key Fox Valley Conference Fox Division road contest with Crystal Lake Central. "We have had a tendency of making really good adjustments and kids play really well in the second half."
But it didn't take very long into the second half before the Knights went from being in the ballgame, to being out of it. They can thank Crystal Lake Central quarterback Kyle Lavand for that, along with a Tigers defense that got tougher as the night went along.
Lavand threw for two scores in the second half, but his 59-yard breakaway scoring run with 1:46 left in the third quarter was the key play in a 35-6 win over the Knights which gave Crystal Lake Central a spot all alone in first place in the FVC Fox Division.
Grayslake North suffered its first defeat of the season and fell to 3-1 in league play and 5-1 overall.
The loss also marked the first time the Knights were held without a touchdown since a 31-0 loss to Prairie Ridge in Week 6 of the 2010 season.
"We just did not play well and (Crystal Lake Central) did," Wood said. "They made plays when they had to and we made it hard on ourselves. You can't win a game against a good team going three-and-out over and over again, and we did tonight."
The defense for Central (5-1, 3-0) was stifling all night, but especially in the third quarter. The Tigers limited North to just 2 first downs and 6 total yards in the quarter.
"We knew that their quarterback and running back could make big plays," said Tigers linebacker Nathan Talbot, who led the team with 6 tackles for loss. "We tried to use our speed and to be aggressive every time we had a chance to make a tackle."
One appreciative Tiger was Lavand. Likewise, the Crystal Lake Central defenders certainly appreciated the 21 second-half points he and the Central offense put up.
"Our defense stepped up huge for us tonight and gave us a sense of confidence that we could go out there knowing they had our back," said Lavand who rushed for 71 yards and threw for 208 as he accounted for 4 Tigers scores.
Leading 14-6 at halftime, Central finally started to break through a stingy Knights defense. Lavand engineered a quick scoring drive that ended with his second touchdown pass of the night -- 30 yards to senior Eric Hjerstedt -- and the Tigers had assumed control at 21-6.
Lavand capped off a big third quarter for the Tigers offense with his 59-yard scoring run, and the lead ballooned to 28-6. The senior finished his night with a perfectly placed scoring pass of 30 yards to junior Jake Ortner (7 catches, 117 yards) to start the fourth quarter.
The Knights' points came just before half on field goals oof 37 and 22 yards from Bernard Drewno.