Huntley holds off Dundee-Crown, stays tied for FVC lead
Nothing can provide a jolt of energy quite like a huge fourth-down stuff.
Those don't come much bigger than Huntley's first-half goal-line stand during a 31-19 Fox Valley Conference win Friday over Dundee-Crown.
Trailing by four points already and back on their heels a little after a turnover in their own territory, the Red Raiders defense allowed the Chargers march down inside the 1 before a huge stop by the line changed everything. The offense took it from there, going 99 yards and scoring right before halftime on a 25-yard pass from Sam Deligio to Jake Zastrow.
That seemed to change the entire outlook of a game that kept Huntley (7-1, 7-1) tied with Jacobs and Prairie Ridge for first in the FVC.
"That fourth down play it really just looked like three of our guys knifed in there and pushed the pile back," Huntley coach Mike Naymola said. "It kind of reminded me a little bit of when the Bears got shut down on fourth and one the other day. Those guys they just dug their heels in and made a play when they needed to. They didn't have their best game of the season. They'll be the first guys to tell you that. But they made plays when it mattered."
From that point forward, the Red Raiders and running back Haiden Janke made the most of their offensive opportunities. They took the second-half kickoff down the field and scored on a drive heavy on Janke runs, making it a two-score game at 17-7 with 9:08 to play in the third quarter.
Janke wound up rushing for 248 yards and a touchdown for Huntley. In total, the Red Raiders rushed for 368 yards and had 458 yards of total offense.
But it may have been some big plays from the defense and special teams that made the biggest difference.
D-C moved the ball fairly well all night long, totaling 347 yards, including 279 from quarterback Zach Randl on 24-of-28 passing. The Chargers (2-6, 2-6) pulled within 17-13 when Nate Benton scored from four yards out with 3:55 immediately following a roughing-the-passer penalty on fourth down.
However, Huntley made the key plays when it needed, including an interception by Zack Garifo and an impressive strip by James Lang on a long Chargers pass play that was inches away from being a touchdown.
"I feel we really built momentum off that (fourth-down stop)," Garifo said. "We changed our game plan after seeing that some stuff was failing for us. I mean we just weren't playing together as a team in the first quarter, but we came together like we do."
On special teams, Huntley executed an onside kick that all but put the game out of reach. Coming off an 8-yard touchdown run from Janke to make it 24-13, the Red Raiders recovered the onside kick and went 49 yards, the last being a 2-yard scoring run by Zach Rios to make it 31-13 with only 9:15 to play.
Huntley also blocked a field goal in the first half.
"I thought the guys rallied and played hard, but the big one that hurt us was the onside right after they scored," D-C coach Mike Steinhaus said. "We were making a little bit of a pushback at that time, but again I thought we lost a little bit of intensity. We rallied the kids and fought back. We fought. That's all we can ask the kids to do."
Kali Freeman caught eight passes for 118 yards for the Chargers. Henry Kennedy had seven receptions for 59 yards and a score. Anthony Aguilar also had a touchdown reception.