Mistakes cost Dundee-Crown
McHenry and Dundee-Crown both had numerous lengthy sustained drives during their Fox Valley Conference showdown Friday.
But the Warriors capitalized on a pair of Chargers fumbles -- one in the first quarter and another in the third -- which led to 14 points for McHenry.
Capitalizing on those mistakes was the difference, as McHenry (2-4, 2-4 FVC) pulled away late for a 31-12 victory, prompting a spirited postgame celebration between the Warriors and their fans.
"In previous weeks, we were on the other end of far too many of those turnovers," McHenry coach Joel Beard said. "Our guys won a lot more one-on-one battles defensively tonight, and were in the right place at the right time."
McHenry senior quarterback Dominick Caruso finished 9-of-17 passing for 164 yards and two TDs. That included a 34-yard strike to wide receiver Jacob Zarek with 52 seconds remaining in the first quarter, following a D-C fumble, to put the Warriors on the board first.
"We wanted to come out and set the tempo early and get out to a quick start so they'd have to play from behind," Caruso said.
He also seemed to put the football where only his receivers could catch it and never threw a pass that was in any real danger of being picked off.
"A lot of that was my offensive line protecting me and giving me time to make good decisions," Caruso said. "There were also a few passes where my receivers went up and got the ball."
One of those came late in the third.
Following the Chargers' second lost fumble of the game, McHenry held on to a precarious 17-12 lead.
Facing a fourth-and-8 at the D-C 15, Caruso chucked a lazer into the back middle of the end zone, which found a leaping Zach Maness for a momentum-altering TD.
That made it 24-12 Warriors. They added an insurance TD late in the fourth quarter thanks to a 1-yard run on the legs of Dylan Drumhelier, who ran 14 times for 88 yards. James LaRose (14 carries, 58 yards) also had a rushing score.
McHenry ran for 211 yards total.
"We were able to match their physicality at the line," Caruso said. "That opened it up so we were able to take some shots downfield against their one-deep safety coverage."
The Chargers (2-4, 2-4) were without coach Mike Steinhaus, who was serving a in-game suspension after being ejected from a game last week.
Interim coach Brad Smeele praised the effort of receiver Kali Freeman who used his explosive speed en route to four catches for 84 yards and a pair of TDs.
"We had some big plays on offense, and Kali can really stretch the field," Smeele said. "But we had too many holding penalties, and obviously the three turnovers. It seemed like every time we got McHenry to a third down situation, they would convert. That was almost as critical as the turnovers."