Defense drives Cary-Grove past CL South

CRYSTAL LAKE – The offensive numbers Cary-Grove recorded were rather pedestrian by Trojans’ standards, but almost every other aspect of its play was impressive.

C-G committed zero turnovers. It was flagged only twice. And its defense gave the offense a short field early, then held tough the rest of the game.

“There were so many little plays,” Crystal Lake South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. “And they seemed to hit them.”

By minimizing its errors, C-G defeated South, 17-3, in their Fox Valley Conference Valley Division football game at Ken Bruhn Field on Friday night, marking the first time since the Trojans’ Class 6A state championship season of 2009 they have beaten the Gators.

“We knew we had to play disciplined football against South, because they’re big and physical up front, to have a chance to win,” Trojans defensive back Kasey Fields said. “We flew around and bent, but didn’t break. We were able to stop them.”

Fields gave C-G the upper hand early when he picked off South quarterback Austin Rogers on the second play from scrimmage, setting up the Trojans on South’s 18-yard line. C-G (3-0, 1-0 FVC Valley) scored in five plays.

“We knew that play was coming and I made a great break on the ball,” Fields said. “We practiced against that play a lot this week.”

Running back Ryan Mahoney supplied the Trojans’ two biggest plays in their second-quarter scoring drive with a 42-yard run and a 30-yard reception. Quarterback Quinn Baker again capped that drive with a short touchdown run.

Mahoney was lost in the second half with a sprained left ankle. C-G coach Brad Seaburg said Mahoney would get X-rays on the foot to check the damage. South (1-2, 0-1) had some momentum at that point with running back Zevin Clark (18 carries, 95 yards) leading the way.

The Gators’ Casey Oliver kicked a 27-yard field goal in the third quarter to cut the lead to 14-3, and South was driving in the fourth quarter, trying to further close the gap. On fourth-and-3 from C-G’s 13, Rogers fired a pass that receiver Eric Schiller got a hand on but could not catch. The Gators did not get that close to scoring again.

“That was an outstanding effort by our defense,” Seaburg said. “The [two] turnovers were huge. We were hitting hard and contained them well. We play solid, fundamental defense and line up in the right places.”

C-G, ranked No. 8 in The Associated Press’ Class 7A poll, finished with 189 total yards and nine first downs, while South had 243 and 13. Trojans running back Kaene Connington got more carries after Mahoney went out and sparked the offense’s second-half scoring drive. Garrett Glueck booted a 31-yard field goal for the final margin with 4:20 remaining in the game.

“We made plenty of mistakes, but the defense played hard and got us the ball back,” Connington said. “That was a heck of a game by the defense. We did what we needed to do [in the fourth quarter] and got that drive and go them on their heels.”

Mahoney had ice on his ankle and left the field on crutches. He finished with seven carries for 62 yards.

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