It was a tale of two halves in the battle of the Bulldogs on Friday night between host Wauconda and Grant.
The hosts took a 10-0 lead into halftime of this North Suburban Conference football battle.
But Grant (3-6, 3-3) turned the tables on Wauconda (4-5, 2-4) with 17 unanswered points in the second half as Grant captured an exciting 17-10 NSC Prairie Division victory.
The loss ended any slim hopes of Wauconda earning a berth in the Class 5A state playoffs.
After a scoreless first quarter, Wauconda got on the scoreboard when Adolfo Carrillo kicked a 26-yard field goal with 7:40 left in the second quarter.
Then the hosts put together a 16-play, 79-yard drive with sophomore quarterback Kevin Malisheski (11-for-24, 11 yards passing) spiking the ball to kill the clock 16.2 seconds before halftime.
On the next play, Malisheski hit junior teammate Josh Anderson with a 5-yard touchdown pass near the right corner of the end zone before Carrillo's extra point gave Wauconda a 10-0 lead at the intermission.
Wauconda was looking good in the third quarter as senior running back Michael Prate broke off a 56-yard run on the second play of the second half to take the ball down to the Grant 24-yard line.
But on the next play, Prate lost a fumble to Grant and also suffered a right-leg injury on what proved to be the turning point of the game.
On fourth down, Grant lined up like it was going to punt. Instead, Grant pulled off a successful fake punt on an infamous trick play with senior running back Billy Sullivan (106 yards on 15 carries) bolting 60 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown. Joe Sadausakas' extra point cut the gap to 10-7 just 2:50 into the third quarter.
Wauconda coach Dave Mills was not too happy with the officiating following Grant's successful use of the "fumblerooski" play for the TD on the fake punt.
"At some point high school officials will figure out why everybody has outlawed the fumblerooski and that goes against player safety," said Mills. "Give them (Grant) credit, they got momentum, they went with it, and we were fighting an uphill battle from that point on."
A 10-yard penalty deep in its own territory ultimately led to a Wauconda punt on its next possession and Grant took over with great field position at the Wauconda 25.
Five plays later, Sullivan scored on a 3-yard TD run and Grant had the lead for good at 14-10 midway through the third quarter. Sullivan knew that the trick play could work some day in a real game.
"It's the first time we tried it in a game, but we've been running it in practice all of the time," Sullivan said. "We set up in kind of a similar way before that and nobody knew I had the ball."
Wauconda got stopped just short on fourth down late in the third quarter and Grant came back with another scoring drive.
This time Sadausakas booted a 38-yard field goal and the visitors led 17-10 with 9:55 to play.
Wauconda marched downfield late in the fourth quarter. But running back Alex Payne (62 yards on 20 attempts) lost a fumble to Grant's Patrick Purvin with 2:56 to play.
From there Grant was able to run out the clock as quarterback Spencer Lhotka made a nice fake on a third-down keeper to seal the victory.
Junior Jeremy Bredwood was effective with 55 yards on 18 rushes for Grant while Prate had 63 yards on 5 carries before getting hurt. Wauconda was led by Alex Schwickrath with 8 catches for 92 yards.
"It's always great to win at the end of the season and we challenged our kids to step up (at halftime)," said Grant coach Kurt Rous, whose team has a long winning streak against Wauconda. "They played a great game and they didn't quit."