Cary-Grove muscles past Burlington Central
Cary-Grove earned a reputation as one of the state's top football programs, in large part, through its excellence in running the triple-option offense.
But sometimes, even a team as proficient as the Trojans, has to toss in some different wrinkles. Saturday's Fox Valley Conference opener against Burlington Central was one of those times.
Coming out of halftime in a tight game, C-G switched things up a little bit. For a few series, quarterback Jameson Sheehan was giving straight handoffs to fullback Nick Hissong, rather than the usual mesh and fakes with the option.
Hissong carried for 139 of his 183 yards in the second half, had seven carries of double digits in the half, and the Trojans needed all of them to hold off the Rockets, 28-20, at Huntley's Red Raider Stadium.
"We talked at halftime about how we were shooting ourselves in the foot, holding ourselves back with penalties," Hissong said. "The second half we decided to come out, shoot out and play as hard as we could. The offensive line laid down great blocks and I just read them and took off."
C-G (1-0, 1-0 FVC) fell behind Burlington (0-1, 0-1) early in the third quarter after a mix up on a handoff as Sheehan fell to the turf and Burlington's Ryan Gillette recovered it on the Trojans' 21.
Rockets running back Gavin Sarvis scored on a 7-yard run five plays later for a 12-7 lead.
"We had run a lot of option in that first half and we felt we needed to mix it up a little bit," Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. "We knew Nick was running well in the first half. We wanted to keep him hot and keep him going."
Hissong, a 6-foot-1, 226-pound junior, finished with 23 carries and three touchdowns. The first drive after Burlington had taken the lead, he carried on all eight plays and gained 65 yards on his way to the end zone.
The Trojans' defense then forced a three-and-out and C-G took over at its own 48. Hissong capped that seven-play drive with a 4-yard score for a 21-12 lead.
"We kept it rolling," said running back Wade Abrams, who carried 10 times for 79 yards. "It felt really great. Back-to-back touchdowns after punting three times in a row in the first half, it felt good to go back-to-back. We knew we needed a little change. Coach Seaburg changed up the play called a little bit and we fixed a few mistakes."
C-G opened the fourth quarter with another scoring drive as Sheehan went in from the 5 for a 28-12 lead. But the Rockets were not finished.
Burlington grinded out a 14-play, 73-yard drive and scored with 1:46 remaining as quarterback Mark Ganziano hit Steven Langtim with a 16-yard touchdown pass. Ganziano then tossed a 2-point conversion pass to Marc Wisniewski to set up the onside kick.
C-G recovered and was able to run out the clock.
Sarvis finished with 26 carries for 111 yards. Ganziano was 7 for 11 passing for 48 yards and a touchdown.
"They found something and kept running it and we couldn't stop it," Rockets coach Brian Melvin said. "Get it to the fullback and keep going and going and going. We worked on that (switch from straight option). Sometimes they're a machine and you just can't stop them.
"We played disciplined. We maybe had one penalty. We didn't turn the ball over. We did our jobs."