Antioch routs Grant to move to 5-0
Checking once, checking twice, checking three and four times for good measure.
Before he got too excited, before he celebrated even a smidgen, Lucas Bentley checked for those nasty yellow flags. He checked to his left, to his right and behind him. He wanted to make absolutely sure.
"I made sure as soon as I got into the end zone there were no flags around," Bentley said.
There weren't, so Bentley, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior defensive linemen for Antioch, could finally celebrate.
He made the play of the night Friday at Grant when he picked up a Grant fumble and motored 50 yards for a touchdown.
That gave Antioch a 20-point second-quarter lead and further opened the floodgates on what ultimately became a 50-14 Northern Lake County Conference victory over Grant.
Antioch moves to 5-0 on the season and will clinch its sixth straight NLCC title with a win over archrival Lakes next week.
The NLCC began in 2016 and the Sequoits have won every conference title thus far. They are 32-1 in league play, with their only loss to North Chicago in 2019.
"I had three fumble recoveries for touchdowns last year and all three of them got called back. For penalties. None of them counted," Bentley said of his reluctance to immediately celebrate this touchdown, the first of his varsity career. "So this is really big for me. This felt amazing.
"We work so hard in practice, we work on those types of drills, picking up fumbles. We spend a lot of time on that as a team. It's a big momentum changer. It's huge."
The Antioch defense loomed large all night.
The Sequoits allowed just 69 Grant yards over the entire first half. And they gave up just one touchdown (a 42-yard run by John Bolton) before the running clock was enacted near the end of the third quarter.
"They (Antioch) are a very good team and they are very well coached," said Grant quarterback Chris Perez, who scored Grant's other touchdown on a 1-yard run. "We were trying to run different formations to confuse them, but we were just shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties and we couldn't get anything going."
Meanwhile, the Antioch offense was well-balanced and prolific as usual.
Quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis completed 13-of-19 passes for 198 yards and 4 touchdowns, including a beautiful 50-yarder to his brother Dino. Both Kaliakmanis brothers will be playing at the University of Minnesota next year.
Senior reserve wide receiver Doug Schultz had another big week for Antioch after catching the winning 2-point conversion last week against Wauconda in a 1-point win. Schultz hauled in 3 catches for 52 yards, including a touchdown of 39 yards.
Schultz has been referred to by the coaching staff as the equivalent of the all-important "sixth-man" in basketball.
"I don't start, but I get a lot of reps on the team," said Schultz, who rotates in with starters AJ Kutcher and Joey Neumann. "I love it. I don't even care how much I'm in just as long as I get in and have any type of role, because I love playing the game of football."
Speaking of Neumann, he scored the first touchdown of the game and a 14-yard toss from Kaliakmanis. He had 3 catches for 56 yards.
Dino Kaliakmanis not only had his long touchdown catch but he also ran in a 60-yard touchdown. He had 155 total yards.
Andy Bowles also had 2 touchdowns for Antioch, scoring on a 13-yard run and a 14-yard catch.
Antioch had a 20-0 lead at halftime.
"We felt pretty good if we could stop them from running between the tackles and that's what we did," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "And offensively, we just have so many weapons. I thought we had a good game plan and a really good week of practice. That was a result of a really good week's worth of practice and concentration."