Grant topples North Chicago to secure playoff berth
It's been a long time since Grant has reached the playoffs, but the Bulldogs have clinched a spot with their sixth victory in seven games.
Grant needed a complete effort offensively and defensively to make it happen in a 13-12 win over North Chicago in a Northern Lake County Conference matchup in Fox Lake Friday night.
The Bulldogs' (6-1, 4-1) last trip into the postseason happened in 2012.
"It's big for the program and something we've been trying to do for a long time," Grant coach Chris Robinson said. "I think it says a lot for the kids, who have been putting in the work the entire offseason to get to this point."
Grant jumped out to a 13-0 lead and had to hold back the effort from North Chicago (2-5, 2-3), which had rallied back and nearly had a chance to take the game away a couple of times.
"You have to give respect to North Chicago," Robinson said. "We knew they would play well. They have athletes and show up every week. We do have a lot to clean up in all three phases for us. We hung with it and played tough. Each week, we keep preaching to play Grant football. That's what we try to do each week."
Down 13-6 in the fourth quarter, the Warhawks were able to get a first down at the Bulldogs' 2-yard line. Then, four plays later, Vondarious Gordon (10 carries, 108 yards) scored on a 2-yard run to cut the lead to 13-12 with 3:47 left. North Chicago went for the 2-point conversion and for the victory, but the Bulldogs' defense stopped the run before the goal line.
"That was very impressive by our defense," Robinson said. "North Chicago deserves the respect for punching it in for the six. Our defense held its own. That's asking a lot on the defense. They've been able to stand up all season."
The Bulldogs were able to run out the clock with a couple of first downs.
Grant's John Bolton (4 carries, 82 yards) started the scoring for the Bulldogs with a 67-yard scamper into the end zone for a 6-0 lead with 3:45 left in the opening quarter.
"I took it outside right away. I thought someone was going to get me," Bolton said. "I was picking up my feet and I thought it was awesome. It was huge to get it at that point. Once we get going, you're not going to stop us. Our defense is insane. We have 11 guys that want to be in every play."
Grant quarterback Tyler Elfering added a 2-yard touchdown run that completed a 10 play, 35-yard drive and increased the lead to 13-0 with 4:26 left in the third quarter.
But the Warhawks started their comeback quickly by scoring 24 seconds later as Vondarious Gordon broke free for a 72-yard touchdown run that cut the margin to 13-6.
North Chicago had a chance to tie the game after Grant fumbled the ball inside its own 20. But the Bulldogs' defense stopped the Warhawks in four plays and turned the ball over on downs.
The Warhawks have lost three times this season by one point to Lakes, Wauconda and now Grant.
Grant has two remaining games at Grayslake North next Friday and hosting Wauconda the final week.