Huntley found out how tough it is to catch up to Prairie Ridge and junior quarterback Samson Evans in Friday night's Fox Valley Conference football showdown in Crystal Lake.
Evans rushed for 202 yards on 22 carries and helped propel the Wolves to a 17-point lead early in the second half. The Red Raiders could never get the deficit inside double digits and fell 31-20 before a standing-room-only crowd at Prairie Ridge Athletic Stadium.
"This will make us come back stronger, I think," said Huntley senior defensive lineman Caleb Jones. "I think we needed this. I would rather have it happen now than in the second round of the playoffs. It will give us something to fight for."
Huntley (1-1, 1-1) did battle back after Prairie Ridge (2-0, 2-0) led 17-0 on a 27-yard touchdown run by Evans, a 41-yard field goal by Derek Greiner and a 52-yard touchdown run by Cole Brown. Junior quarterback Eric Mooney, who was 21-for-36 passing for 247 yards and rushed for 53 yards, scored on a 1-yard run.
Prairie Ridge answered on the next possession when Evans completed his only pass to tight end Austen Ferbet for 62-yard touchdown.
A 60-yard touchdown pass from Mooney to Salvatore Pitrone got Huntley within 24-13 with 9:38 to play. But a pair of 15-yard penalties on the next possession helped set up Evans' 4-yard touchdown run at 6:47.
"We didn't stop him and that hurt us," Jones said after Evans ran for 46 yards on PR's first play of the game.
"Samson is the real deal," said Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak. "He's quite an athlete. We didn't follow our assignments and he took advantage of it."
Huntley also had a potential tying 38-yard touchdown from Mooney to Alec Coss (10 catches, 108 yards) wiped out by a holding penalty.
"That would have started to get the ball rolling," Zimolzak said. "If you don't take advantage of the opportunities you have teams like that will come out on top."
Mooney set the final score with a 1-yard touchdown run with eight seconds to play.
"It's really big because it has us all hyped up and on our toes," Evans said of having a three-possession lead early in the second half. "It puts us in a great situation and keeps us rolling."