Cary-Grove scores 21 straight to beat Prairie Ridge
Cary-Grove didn't display any sense of panic.
Trailing 2-time defending Class 6A champion Prairie Ridge 14-0 early in the second quarter, the Trojans rallied to score the final 21 points of the game in picking up a 21-14 Fox Valley Conference win in Crystal Lake Friday night.
The win gives the Trojans the outright FVC title with a perfect 8-0 mark and avenges a gut-wrenching 17-13 last-second loss to the Wolves in the second round of the 6A playoffs last season.
"The kids were aware of what happened in the playoffs but we didn't use it as a motivator," said Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg. "This is a different team from last year and we hope they would learn from that tough loss. I know these kids well and I knew they wouldn't quit tonight when we got behind. We made some adjustments on offense and the defense played very well. Going 8-0 in this tough conference is awesome."
Trailing 14-0, the Trojans scored with 12.7 seconds left before intermission as Ben McDonald found Danny Daigle in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown. Jacob Splitt's extra point made the score 14-7 at halftime.
"That touchdown before the end of the first half was a huge momentum lift for us going into halftime," said Seaburg. "We had a lot of confidence going into the second half."
Cary-Grove knotted the score at 14 on a 1-yard run by Blake Skol with 6:05 left in the third quarter.
The Trojans, 8-0 overall, scored what turned out to be the winning touchdown on a 1-yard TD run by McDonald with 2:54 left.
During the decisive drive, Quinn Priester caught 3 passes for 48 yards. The talented senior receiver grabbed 5 passes for 82 yards for the game.
"PR really bottled Quinn up in the first half and we really didn't target him," said Seaburg. "We knew we had to get him the ball."
Daigle, who played with a banged up ankle and shoulder, rushed for 59 yards on 8 carries and caught 3 passes for 42 yards and a TD.
"I am really hurting," said Daigle. "PR really hits hard. We weren't executing early in the game. We didn't lose our focus when we got down and the score before half was huge. We had great game management."
McDonald, who accounted for 287 yards of total offense, ran 25 times for 119 yards with the game-winning touchdown.
The senior signal caller completed 10-of-13 passes for 168 yards and a score.
The Trojans defense, which blanked the Wolves (6-2, 5-2) for the final 33 minutes, held standout running back Jackson Willis to 43 yards on 15 carries.
"Our plan was to tackle Willis on every play even if he didn't have the ball," said Seaburg. "We did a great job on him. He is a great back."
The Trojans defense, which got a key fumble recovery from Jacob DiMatteo, held PR's prolific option offense to 123 yards rushing.