Huntley gets rolling in 2nd quarter to take down Jacobs in FVC
Jacobs quarterback Daniel Curran appeared, for an instant, to have a lane in which he could run for the necessary 3 yards, until Huntley linebacker Ryan Sweeney swooped in and swallowed him up.
That fourth-down defensive stop set up the Red Raiders on Jacobs' 42-yard line, and Huntley coach Mike Naymola knew exactly what needed to come next.
Quarterback Braylon Bower dropped back and fired a strike that wide receiver Jacob Witt ran under as he crossed the goal line.
That play was part of a 20-point second quarter as the Raiders took control on their way to a 40-21 Fox Valley Conference victory over the Golden Eagles on Friday night at Red Raider Stadium.
Bower finished 11-of-11 passing for 136 yards and two touchdowns, while the defense stymied Jacobs' running game for most of the night.
"I knew I had to throw it out there and [Witt] would run underneath it and catch it," Bower said. "I knew my offensive line would block for me and make that play. I knew it was going to be pretty good when I threw it in front of him.
"I've been struggling in practice and throwing it behind him. As soon as I threw it in front of him, I knew he'd make a play for me."
Huntley (3-0, 3-0 FVC) trailed 7-0 after Jacobs (1-2, 1-2) took advantage of a turnover to score the game's first touchdown. The Raiders scored the game's next 33 points.
"Jake Witt's such a good receiver and has good speed," Naymola said. "He ran a great post and came up and made a play. It changes the momentum of the game completely.
"It was the perfect time to take a shot. It was probably the best ball Braylon's thrown this season, in practice too."
Naymola was thrilled at the way the Raiders played defense, forcing the Eagles to throw more than they are accustomed to doing. Jacobs had 17 carries for 45 yards at halftime.
"I don't know when we've had a year where we stifled the strength of their team as much as we did today," Naymola said. "I give [defensive coordinator Paul] Renke and those guys credit for a game plan and getting those guys ready.
"We were able to match their physicality, and we were gap-sound. We were able to put them in situations where they probably don't like to be in, throwing the football."
Huntley scored again to open the second half on Haiden Janke's 7-yard run, and Jacobs had something positive going with a drive to the Raiders' 16. On fourth-and-7, Huntley safety Zack Garifo picked off Curran's pass for tight end Grant Stec and ran it back 89 yards for a touchdown, making it 33-7.
"We were looking for that pass all night," Garifo said. "When Stec dried his gloves off behind him on his towel, we thought it was a pass. We're going man on him, and he rolled out for his drag route, and I was on his back hip.
"The ball was in the middle of his body, and I was able to reach around him and make a play, once I caught that ball, I saw open turf, and Jack Coss threw me a key block on their quarterback."
Jacobs finished with 278 total yards and ran for 139 yards in the second half, but it was too late.
"They shot the gaps well with their linebackers and outside guys," Eagles coach Brian Zimmerman said. "Some bad calls on my part. We were whiffing on blocks too. They're a good team. We came out well and got a good drive to score and thought we were in a good position. From there, the wheels fell off. This is a tough one."
Zimmerman thought Curran could run or pass to Stec on the crucial fourth-and-3 early in the second quarter.
"It looked good, but unfortunately it didn't happen," Zimmerman said. "We have to get back to the drawing board and figure out what to do to get our running game back on track. Defensively they did a nice job, but we have to get back on track."
Garifo lauded the defensive front four of Mason Maldonado, Carter Pope, Adam Tramuta and Ryan Wabel for the jobs they did making it easier for others.
"Our D-line was good and able to tackle in the backfield and our linebackers were able to scrape," Garifo said. "The linebackers were able to flow and we were able to make plays."
Janke finished with a 58-yard touchdown and 104 yards on 12 carries. He has three touchdowns in each game. Witt caught five passes for 84 yards.
Bower thanked his offensive line of Tramuta, Jack Crudele, Vinny Tiberi, Cam Mueller and Kelly Gassner for helping him enjoy his best passing game in three varsity starts.
"It all starts with the offensive line will block for me, Janke will have my blind side and trusting my receivers to catch the ball," Bower said.