Scott's 228 rushing yards lead Lake Forest past Lake Zurich
The Homecoming theme at Lake Zurich on Friday was "Ground and Pound." Maybe a grunge band would be appropriate for the dance.
But after a first half filled with time-consuming drives, the defense and big plays increased after halftime and Lake Forest came away with a 24-21 victory in the North Suburban Conference.
"You get in one of those slugfest, if you get down two scores it's hard to come back on that," LZ coach Ron Planz said. "Both teams were just out there throwing haymakers. It was a good game from that standpoint."
The only scoring in the third quarter was a 38-yard field goal by Lake Forest's Kai Popov. So trailing by 3 and anxious to get the ball back, Lake Zurich seemed to get a break when two penalties set up the Scouts with a first-and-26.
The Bears knew what was coming, but as running back Jahari Scott swept around the right end, he broke through a wall of LZ tacklers and won the race to the goal line for a 66-yard touchdown with 6:23 remaining, putting the Scouts up 24-14.
"You can't ask a whole lot more of him," LF coach Chuck Spagnoli said of Scott. "They stopped him but he didn't stop, so give him credit for that."
Scott had an impressive night, rushing for 228 yards on 27 carries. He took his time finding holes, then just glided into open space. Lake Forest's front line was powered by two massive tackles in seniors Nicolas Flynn (6-4, 290) and Jade Khater (6-4, 255).
"It just went by so fast," Scott said as he accepted congratulations from LZ players outside the locker room. "It was a lot of running, a lot of hitting the ground, a lot of getting back up. I feel fresh, I feel like I could go for another half a quarter. It was fun."
It's interesting how Lake Forest was known for decades for running the wishbone. Then when future Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees came along, the Scouts went through an era when they threw the ball on most every play. Now they're back on the ground, throwing just 6 passes Friday.
"All these kinds were in kindergarten when Tommy played," Spagnoli said. "It just kind of evolves and your personnel kind of dictates what you do so this year we've been a little more of a running team."
Lake Zurich seemed to be out of it after QB Jarred Meyers was sacked for an 8-yard loss by Tommy Newman. But after a time out, Meyers dropped back again and hit junior Tyler Erkman in stride for a 51-yard completion. Two plays later, Meyers ran it in from 8 yards out to make it 24-21 with 1:47 left, but Lake Forest (6-1) recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock, dropping the Bears to 3-4 on the season.
"We're trying to build somewhat of an identity," Planz said. "We're not going to be able to come out and throw the ball all over the yard, that's just not who we are. But we should be tough, we should be physical, we should be able to run the ball, hit some big plays -- which we did tonight, we just didn't do enough."
Rush night started right away. Lake Forest took the opening kickoff and marched 68 yards. Lake Zurich then went 80 yards for a TD, followed by 78 yards from the Scouts and very few pass plays were included in those possessions.
By the time the Bears got their hands on the ball to start their second possession of the game, there were just over three minutes left in the first half, since both teams did such a thorough job of controlling the clock.
But this is when the theme changed as Meyers hit Erkman for a short pass along the visiting sideline. Erkman spun inside, eluded the defensive back and sprinted for a 58-yard touchdown to tie the score at 14-14 with 1:57 left in the half.
Erkman came right back and thwarted Lake Forest's first long pass of the night, making a leaping interception inside the 10-yard line to essentially close out the first half.
LZ senior Ben Cooper ran for 124 yards on 24 carries. Erkman finished with 6 catches for 141 yards, while Meyers threw for 161.