Cary-Grove drops quarterfinal matchup at Prairie Ridge
Prairie Ridge capitalized on Cary-Grove miscues and made critical defensive stops in its 14-13 Class 6A quarterfinal win Saturday in Crystal Lake.
The Wolves' offense turned two second quarter fumbles into touchdowns. The defensive unit ended four Cary-Grove drives, one on an interception and three on fourth down conversion attempts.
Prairie Ridge advances to the semifinal round next weekend against Deerfield, a 21-20 winner over Lake Forest.
"We won this game because of our defense," said Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp. "Our defense just stepped up and made the big plays when they needed to."
"In the playoffs it often comes down to key plays," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "But those plays weren't the reason we lost. We didn't execute when we needed to."
Host Prairie Ridge (11-1) made the most of its offensive possessions as Cary-Grove (9-3) held the Wolves to 108 total yards.
The Trojans' defense forced the Wolves to end seven of their 11 drives with punts. Five possession went three and out.
"I think our guys just got under their pads," said Seaburg. "I think we stopped them at the point of attack and didn't allow them to get their momentum going."
"They were flying to the football, no doubt about that," Schremp said. "Unfortunately we were getting a lot of push off the line."
The field conditions made it tough for both teams.
"The footing was awful. With the exception of the Jacobs' game, I haven't seen a field this bad," said Seaburg. "The field was in terrible shape but it was for both teams. I think that does adjust your game plan."
Blake Skol got the Trojans on the board first with a 53-yard run with 2:50 left in the first quarter. The senior fullback provided most of his team's offense, racking up 265 of Cary Grove's 339 total yards. He rushed for 195 yards on 29 carries and caught two passes for 70 yards.
"We won every battle except the point game," Skol said. "Our offense just dominated in the second half but we just came up short a couple of times. Our defense really shut them down."
Facing fourth down on the Wolves' 6-yard line in the second quarter, the Trojans punted. The snap was fumbled and Prairie Ridge recovered. On its first play from scrimmage, quarterback Connor Lydon connected with Taidhgin Trost for a 13-yard TD pass to tie the game 7-7.
Cary-Grove turned the ball over on its next possession. Starting from its own 49-yard line Prairie Ridge needed five plays to score its second touchdown on a 34-yard pass from Lydon to Ryan Goudschaal to put the Wolves up 14-7.
The Trojans threatened to tie the game as the first half wound down. Cary-Grove drove down to Prairie Ridge's 25-yard line with less than a minute to play. Matt Loucks ended the threat when he picked off a Luke Eleftheriou pass (6 for 12 for 91 yards).
With 7:56 left in the game, the Trojans pulled within a point on a 14-yard Eleftheriou keeper. Cary-Grove opted for the PAT to tie the game. A bad snap forced kicker Nathan Splitt to pass the ball to Michael Sullivan, who was tackled before he could score.