Antioch's take-aways key shutout win over Grant
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Chain O' Lakes was the perfect place to be on a stormy Friday night.
By kicking off at 5 p.m., Grant and Antioch managed to dodge all the bad weather. There was no rain, no lightning, no thunder in Fox Lake during the game.
For Grant, there was no offense, either. Antioch took advantage of four first-half turnovers and handed the Bulldogs their first loss of the season 20-0 in the Northern Lake County Conference.
The Sequoits (4-1, 3-0) recorded their third shutout of the season and have allowed just 17 points in five games.
"Four weeks ago, they were getting shutouts because they play so fast and they hit," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "But we weren't aligning correctly. I don't know. Coach (Dave) Proffitt's never satisfied, but I'd be interested to see about our alignment and assignment, which I'm sure was pretty good. I like the way the kids prepared throughout the week."
The turnovers started early. On Grant's third offensive play, the ball came loose on a handoff and Antioch's Ben Wilson recovered. That set up a 31-yard drive and Brandon Reynolds scored on a 1-yard run to make it 6-0.
Grant's defense managed three straight three-and-outs, but the offense couldn't get anything going. Jayden Marquis and Alex Kutcher each intercepted passes from Tyler Elfering. Kutcher's pick set up a 45-yard drive for Antioch's second touchdown, a 5-yard run by sophomore Andrew Bowles.
Each touchdown drive featured a connection between quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis (11 for 20, 128 yards) and older brother Dino (7 catches, 113 yards). Just before halftime, Athan lobbed a deep pass that Dino caught over the heads of Grant's defensive backs for a 42-yard gain to the one.
"He's got good size, really strong kid," Glashagel said of Dino Kaliakmanis. "You can see after he makes the catch, how hard he is to bring down. He dead lifts like 500 pounds."
The second half was uneventful except for a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown by Kutcher. It would have been his second pick of the night, but it was nullified by an inadvertent whistle. Glashagel said he heard the whistle blow while the ball was in the air. The referees wiped out the interception and replayed the down.
"I was excited at first and then obviously I was a little disappointed when it got called back," Kutcher said.
Grant (4-1, 2-1) tried something different on offense, using leading rusher John Bolton as the fullback in the double wing. Bolton has played quarterback and wingback this season. He couldn't find much room against the Sequoits, finishing with 23 yards on 10 carries. The Bulldogs' longest run of the night was 17 yards by sophomore Ramon Guzman.
"That game is entirely on me," Grant coach Chris Robinson said. "Antioch deserves their credit for winning this game. From my perspective, this game was on me entirely. Our defense can't catch their wind if they're constantly on the field. I called things I shouldn't have called. I put a lot of pressure on our guys.
"We had a lot of success on the ground. We wanted to get the ball out a little bit when I could have set things up a little better. I rushed a few things instead of letting some things unfold and giving our players the best opportunity to make a play."