Prairie Ridge erases CL South's 14-point lead
Crystal Lake South came out with an inspired and excellent first half, particularly on defense where the Gators held Prairie Ridge's high-powered offense in check.
Wolves dynamic quarterback Tyler Vasey had nowhere to run as South enjoyed a two-score lead.
The question was would it be something South could sustain in the second half.
Almost predictably, Vasey and the Wolves got rolling after halftime. Vasey had 33 yards at halftime and added 301 more in the second half as Prairie Ridge fought back for a 48-41 victory Friday in their Fox Valley Conference game at Ken Bruhn Field.
"We were down two going into halftime," said Vasey, who finished with 32 carries for 334 yards and five touchdowns. "If they go down and score (to start the second half) it's a completely different game. We stopped them and got the ball and went to score and I was like, 'OK, let's go.'
"It's always a good feeling and we felt like we could do more of what we wanted to do."
Prairie Ridge (7-1, 7-1 FVC) remains tied with Huntley and Jacobs atop the FVC.
"I'm really proud of our guys for the way they responded," Wolves coach Chris Schremp said. "South's a good football team. to be able to come back against a good team.
"We saw if we don't come ready to play physically what can happen. We also saw if we get out act together what we can put together."
After Prairie Ridge's defense made a stop, Vasey's first carry of the second half was a 38-yard touchdown run on a counter play to make it 27-20.
South (5-3, 5-3) answered with a scoring drive to make it 34-20, but the Wolves came back and scored on Vasey's 47-yard run.
Prairie Ridge's defense allowed 318 yards in the first half, but tightened up in the second. The Wolves forced a South punt and Prairie Ridge drove down to tie the score at 34-34.
Linebacker Andrew Koeppen and defensive back Logan Harlow each came up with interceptions to stop South's next drives and the Wolves grabbed a 48-34 lead.
"We weren't playing as aggressive (in the first half) as we were in the second half," defensive back Dom Creatore said. "I believe we came out with fire in the second half. We punched them in the mouth first, which solidified the second half for us.
"They have a lot of good athletes, a lot of playmakers and they're really good. They got in some space and made things work out."
South quarterback Caden Casimino threw for 213 yards in the first half and one touchdown. Gators running back Nate Van Witzenburg ran for three first-half scores. South had a 27-14 lead at halftime.
"The coaches put us in a great position to win," Gators two-way lineman Nate Compere said. "They had a great game plan, we were running it with energy, fire, passion. We were excited. We were playing really well as a team. That's the best our team has played in a half for sure.
"Vasey's a special player. That's a special team. Football's a momentum game. They got momentum, made halftime adjustments and they got us a little bit."
Wolves running back Luke Vanderwiel scored their two first-half touchdowns. Vasey scored all five of their second-half touchdowns.
"We knew at some point he was going to break something," Gators coach Rob Fontana said. "We talked about even if he gets one, we have to come back and focus and set the tone.
"They played for each other. They played confident (in the first half) and believed in what they're doing and got some big stops. We kind of stubbed our toe to start the second half and that's where the energy left and started to shift right after that. These guys fought for four quarters."
South wide receiver Michael Prokos caught eight passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Van Witzenburg ran 22 times for 148 yards and Casimino was 18 for 27 for 296 yards.