A couple of guys named Sam and a very picky defense spelled victory for Prospect on Friday in its Mid-Suburban League East football opener at Hersey's Roland Goins Stadium.
Quarterback Sam Frasco (26 carries for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns) and running back Sam Mazukelli (18 carries, 117 yards, 1 score) accounted for all of Prospect's offensive touchdowns in a 35-20 win over the host Huskies.
The Knights' defense picked off 3 passes, including a pair that went for touchdowns. Mike Etchingham had 2 of the interceptions and ran one back 52 yards for a score, and Andrew Hajek returned an interception 48 yards for Prospect's last touchdown.
Two other Hersey turnovers led to points for Prospect, which led the Huskies' coach Dragan Teonic to observe, "As poorly as we played at times, we still could have won the game."
Prospect drove 76 yards in 9 plays on the game's opening possession, all running plays. Mazukelli's 6-yard run capped the drive with 7:59 left in the quarter.
Hersey fumbled on its first two offensive plays, losing the second on its own 12 yard line. Prospect scored on Frasco's 6-yard fourth-down run to make it 14-0.
"That turnover early was big," Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen. "The defense made big plays all day. We finished when we needed to, and that's a credit to the kids."
Hersey bounced back to score after recovering a punted ball after it touched a Prospect player. Justin Jobski took the ball on a reverse and found Joey Mailloux in the end zone with a 29-yard touchdown pass.
With just 13.6 seconds left before halftime, Frasco scored on a 2-yard run to give the Knights (1-0, 2-3) a 21-6 lead. Etchingham's interception return with 9:29 left in the third quarter made is 28-6.
"Mike Houghton made a great play (to deflect the pass)," Etchingham said. "It was a huge win. We get a new start to the season and can still make the playoffs."
"The offensive line (Caleb Wachsmuth, Jon Rhee, Houghton, Austin Tixier and Kevin Kern) did a terrific job tonight," Frasco said. "We tried to get outside, and when they started over-running, the cut-back was there."
The Huskies (0-1, 2-3) took the ensuing kickoff 75 yards in 14 plays to cut the lead to 28-13 with 4:05 left in the quarter, and after forcing Prospect into a three-and-out, had some momentum going.
That's when Hajek intercepted a pass from Brad Zaucha, who was being tackled as he threw the ball. The touchdown made it 35-13 with 28.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
Zaucha (29-of-45, 260 yards) went to work in the fourth quarter, driving the Huskies to a quick touchdown, completing 7 of 8 passes, the final 5 yards coming on a pass to Jobski (10 catches, 103 yards).
When Eddie Beyer recovered a Frasco fumble near midfield, the Huskies still had some life, but the drive stalled on a fourth-and-4 from Prospect's 5 with less than two minutes remaining.
"We improved tonight," Teonic said. "We were in position to win. As a program, we're having a hard time getting over the hump."