CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Prairie Ridge set a pair of rushing records as the Wolves rolled past Sacred Heart-Griffin 48-17 to claim the Class 6A high school football state title on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Junior quarterback Samson Evans rushed for 274 yards to set the individual rushing mark for Class 6A title games, and the Wolves set the team rushing mark with a total of 544 yards on the ground. It came mostly in small chunks.
"Three or four yards is a great play for us," Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp said. "I think a lot of schools get away from that with the spread offenses you see out here. We look up and if we are moving the chains with 3-4 yard gains, we are happy with that."
Evans gained his yardage on 24 carries, Emmanuel Ebirim racked up 134 yards on 21 carries, and Zach Gulbransen carried the ball 12 times for 100 yards.
"They are hard to take down, and if you don't wrap up, they aren't going down," Cyclones lineman Josh Pempeck said. "We didn't wrap up."
Prairie Ridge (14-0) wasn't perfect all day. The Wolves fell behind almost immediately after the Cyclones (13-1) kicked a field goal on their opening drive, then Jack Boll recovered an Evans fumble and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 Sacred Heart-Griffin lead midway through the first quarter.
"I told our guys, 'Play every play, we can rattle off 40 or 50 points pretty easily,'" Schremp said. "Fortunately, we were able to."
The Wolves took the lead with 2 of Evans' 4 touchdowns in the next six minutes. Sacred Heart-Griffin's Tremayne Lee gave the Cyclones the lead back again with an 8-yard run with 5:33 left in the first half but from there it was all Prairie Ridge as the Wolves scored the final 34 points.
"I was kind of down about (the fumble)," Evans said. "But I just kept telling myself, 'We can do this' and just tried to push through it. Everyone picked me up."
The loss marked Sacred Heart-Griffin coach Ken Leonard's second runner-up finish in seven title tries. He falls one behind his son, Rochester coach Derek Leonard, in state titles. The younger Leonard won the Class 4A championship for the sixth time on Friday.
Sacred Heart-Griffin quarterback Tim Brenneisen threw for 190 yards. The Cyclones were held to just 124 yards rushing.