Jefferson keys Grayslake North's victory over Grant
For much of Friday's game, Grayslake North struggled to pull away. They marched the ball up and down the field, but Grant seemed to always make a play with its back against the wall.
Michael Jefferson, however, found a way seal the win, dodging a tackler and finding an open lane for a 50-yard punt return for a touchdown, sealing Grayslake North's 26-7 victory to open Northern Lake County Conference play.
"On the punt return, I saw a hole and just went with it," Jefferson said, whose team improved to 3-0 on the year. "There was one person to beat, I made that cut and there was just green grass from there."
Carter Barenbaum intercepted a pass on Grant's next drive and the offense had nothing left to do but run out the clock.
Jefferson had big plays in all three phases of the game, including a touchdown reception and an interception to go along with his punt return.
"Michael put the game away," quarterback Jacob Donahue said.
Donahue led the Knights up and down the field completing 17-of-30 passes for 232 yards and 3 touchdowns. He had many weapons available to him with DeAndre Neely leading all receivers with 106 yards on 6 catches, two going for touchdowns.
Charles Pritchard finished the game with 6 catches for 54 yards. Cameron Bates had 3 receptions for 42 yards and Jefferson added a pair receptions for 30 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Grayslake North made plenty of plays, including 3 interceptions. Mitchell Hughes also intercepted a pass to go along with Jefferson's and Barenbaum's. Jeffery Ventura added a pair of sacks.
The Bulldogs showed a lot of resilience throughout the game. Four times Grayslake North managed to drive the ball inside the Grant 25, but came away with no points. Ke'Sean Louramore had a fumble recovery, Ethan Stutzel had an interception and Emanuel Inzurriaga had a sack for a 14-yard loss.
After giving up the game's first touchdown, Grant marched 89 yards downfield with Rylan Art punching it in from 12 yards out.
Despite the loss and falling to 1-2 overall, Grant head coach Tim Norwood said he was happy with the way his team kept fighting.
"It has been a little rough the past few years here around Grant," Norwood said. "We would get down and heads kind of would go down. We talked about that. ... We are growing and developing. The biggest thing we are working on is our effort and attitude. I hope that shows."