Eagles top Prairie Ridge for first time since 2013
Jacobs chose the perfect time to change things up a little bit with its offense.
Prairie Ridge had grabbed the upper hand with a pivotal defensive stop and taken its first lead of the back-and-forth game. The Wolves defense was concerned about stopping Golden Eagles running backs Antonio Brown and Joey Scrivani.
Jacobs quarterback Max Benner rolled to the right and fired a strike to tight end Grant Stec, who raced for a 61-yard touchdown with 10:00 remaining.
On the Eagles' next drive, it was tight end Nick True's turn. True grabbed a 34-yard pass from Benner to get to Prairie Ridge' 19-yard line. Four plays later, Scrivani scored on a 2-yard run that gave Jacobs a 42-35 Fox Valley Conference victory Friday night.
"It was the right time to do it," Eagles coach Brian Zimmerman said of going to the air. "They were kind of bear-crawling on the front line and we thought that would give Benner the opportunity to get around.
"They were squeezing in so hard. It was really nice to get him to the outside. Their safeties were coming up a little bit to stop the run. Kind of lull them to sleep a little bit and get one on them."
Jacobs (4-0, 4-0 FVC) is the only unbeaten team remaining in the conference. The Eagles had not beaten Prairie Ridge since 2013, a 20-0 victory in the last season they won FVC Valley Division title.
Scrivani scored with 3:13 remaining, which left Prairie Ridge (3-1, 3-1) enough time to answer. The Wolves moved to the Eagles' 14, but Jacobs defensive back Ashton Niehaus nabbed running back Luke Vanderwiel after he had taken the pitch for a 2-yard loss.
"Everyone did their job and my job was the outside pitch man and I got him. It was the team. It was euphoric," Niehaus said. "That (game) was just awesome, every moment of that. We faced adversity and overcame it and that's what championship teams do, man."
Jacobs had 21 points before Prairie Ridge had run an offensive play. The Eagles scored on their first three possessions, but Wolves quarterback Tyler Vasey had kickoff return touchdowns of 85 and 89 yards, to make it 21-14.
The Wolves got their offense on track in the second half with 230 rushing yards. The score was tied at 28-28 heading into the fourth quarter when Prairie Ridge stopped Jacobs near midfield.
Vasey scored on a 36-yard touchdown for the Wolves' first lead, 35-28.
That was when the Eagles looked to the air and found Stec.
"You knew it was coming, it was just a matter of time," Wolves coach Chris Schremp said. "It's kind of like our offense. We throw it down the field a couple times a game and it's usually open. The same kind of philosophy. When their kid is 6-6, it's hard to stop."
Stec saw a safety commit toward another running play and knew he would be open.
"They were not expecting it coming," Stec said. "I felt so good scoring that touchdown. Nobody was there to cover me. I caught it and ran for my life. I got in the end zone and it was the best feeling in the world."
Stec's touchdown tied the score at 35-35.
Prairie Ridge's next drive stalled and Jacobs was able to drive for the game-winner.
"You never think the game's over against a team like Jacobs," Vasey said. "We had the drive (at 35-35) where I made that one incomplete pass on fourth down and that's crucial. They go down and score. If we score there it could have been a difference of 14 points."
Vasey finished with 21 carries for 213 yards and four touchdowns (two rushing and two returns). Scrivani led Jacobs with 132 yards and two touchdowns, while Brown had 114 yards and three scores.
"Vasey's such an incredible runner. Every time he touches the ball he's gashing you," Zimmerman said. "We had to come back and go through some adversity. I'm just proud of our kids, we got the pass game going a little bit at the end. We kept pounding and pounding."