O-line, Flanagan's career night push Prospect past Buffalo Grove
Prospect's state-ranked football team knew there was nothing to take lightly about visiting Buffalo Grove on Friday night.
The Bison came into George Gattas Stadium having won three of their past four games and hoping to continue their surge for a playoff bid.
But the playoff-bound Knights, behind linemen Vincent Salerno, Malachi Tolliver, Andrew Heiss, Chance Rolfe and Olasubomi Sulaimon, were up to the heavy lifting.
Taking advantage of senior running back Gavin Flanagan's career rushing game of 205 yards, Prospect posted a 55-27 Mid-Suburban East triumph over the Bison (3-4, 1-2).
"I want to give all thanks to my O-line," Flanagan said after also rushing for a career-high 3 touchdowns. "Honestly, I've never had holes that big in my life. I just had a wide open field every time, Thanks to all of them. It was just perfect blocks all the time. They made it so easy."
The Knights (6-1, 2-1) made it look easy right out of the gates as it took them just 1:45 to find the end zone. Quarterback Brad Vierneisel's 3-yard run up the middle capped a 69-yard drive. Flanagan rushed four times on the drive for 63 yards.
BG answered right back, covering 80 yards in eight plays, finishing with junior Payton Diaz' 24-yard TD pass to senior Michael Cervantes and went ahead 7-6 on Jake Rubino's extra point with 9:25 left.
However, Prospect gained the lead for good with 29 straight points. They got 1- and 29-yard touchdown runs by Flanagan, a 32-yard TD pass by Vierneisel (9-for-12, 201 yards) to Frank Covey (2 catches, 50 yards, one 2-point conversion) and an 87-yard TD pass by Vierneisel to Jake Parisi that made it 35-7 with 8:52 left in the half.
Diaz' 4-yard TD pass to Anthony Palano made it 35-13 before Prospect closed out the first-half scoring when Sebastian Wildhart caught a 40-yard TD strike from Vierneisel on a double reverse flea flicker for a 42-13 cushion with 4:35 left to intermission.
"Teams come out and do different things against our offense," said Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf. "They really tried to take away our passing so we just adjusted and Flanagan did a nice job and our big boys up front did a nice job."
Flanagan's 8-yard run and Jack Berman's 91-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Knights a 55-13 lead and initiated the running clock with 3:53 left in the third quarter.
BG scored two more times, as Diaz hooked up with Cervantes for 8- and 3-yard TD passes for the final margin.
In all, Diaz (38 passes) connected with Cervantes nine times for 198 yards while Mitchell Verdico caught 3 passes for 47 yards and Palano made 4 receptions for 40 yards.
The Bison, which had an interception by senior James Hensley in the red zone, also took advantage of some pass interference calls and other penalties to put points on the board.
BG ran the ball only 10 times, including nine by junior Matthew Maradkel who gained 93 yards.
"Good job by our defense adjusting and doing some good things," DeBeouf said. "We'll regroup and learn from the film. We'll have a 1-0 mentality. We'll be back to work tomorrow and can't wait to try and extend the season."
Linebacker Conor Mitchell and defensive back Berman each had 2 interceptions to help boost the Knights' defense.
"Those are two seniors who we lean on heavily," DeBoeuf said. "Two leaders, two captains. So it was awesome to see them make those plays."
"We all practice so hard every day," Flanagan added. "Again, I give all the thanks to my teammates. We put a heavy focus on the run every day and we just focus on getting the right blocks, getting the right people to block the right people. and it just worked out."