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Gators’ offense flourishes in first Valley victory

CRYSTAL LAKE – What was cause for celebration for Crystal Lake South’s football team Friday could not have been much more somber for McHenry.

The Gators put together their best performance of the season with a 28-12 victory against the Warriors.

But McHenry’s players suffered two losses: the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division contest, and their standout senior running back Jesse Guajardo. Preliminary reports indicate Guajardo broke his right ankle when he was tackled on a 2-yard run during the Warriors’ first possession of the game.

Trainers and paramedics cut off Guajardo’s cleat, hoisted him onto a stretcher and whisked him away in an ambulance.

“I saw him get swept off his feet,” said South senior running back Zevin Clark, who led all rushers with 140 yards on 26 carries. “Then I saw his ankle. … That’s tough.”

As bad as Clark and his teammates felt for Guajardo, they were glad to see their own offense flourish, especially right away. South (2-3 overall, 1-2 FVC Valley) marched 88 yards on the opening drive of the game, used nearly 6 minutes of clock, and scored to lead, 7-0, on Clark’s 11-yard touchdown.

South senior defensive back Lake Larson fumbled a punt return and the Warriors recovered on the Gators’ 45-yard line to open the second quarter, but it took less than 30 seconds for Larson to redeem himself.

He picked off McHenry quarterback Kyle Snedeker (14 for 22, 268 yards), the Gators took over on their own 47, and went ahead 14-0 on a 30-yard touchdown run from running back Chris Ivers with 8:29 left in the second quarter.

“Usually, I’m aggressive on the punt return,” Larson said, “but I slipped and fumbled. … I think it was a momentum-changer.”

 McHenry (2-3, 1-2) scored with 4:39 left in the first half when Snedeker connected with wing back Korey Partenheimer for a 70-yard touchdown, but South kept its distance. Quarterback Austin Rogers ran in a 43-yard touchdown with 1:17 left before halftime for a 21-6 lead.

Rogers hit senior wide receiver Eric Schiller with an 8-yard score at the 5:43 mark in the third quarter and McHenry answered with Snedeker’s 37-yard pass to Jake Braskett for a touchdown that made it 28-12 and ended the scoring.

 “We played much better on offense tonight,” South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. “We were able to control the football and run the ball the way I hoped we’d be able to, so that was a big positive for us tonight.”

McHenry coach Dave D’Angelo was pleased to see his players keep fighting after losing Guajardo. Senior linebacker David Stout also injured a rib during the game, D’Angelo said, but appears to be all right.

“It’s hard for the kids to see something like that and come back,” McHenry coach Dave D’Angelo said. “But our kids played hard and never gave up. We’re really proud of them. It’s a physical Crystal Lake South team and they took it to us, and hats off to them. They played hard, but we continued to never give up.”

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