WOODSTOCK – It didn’t take long for Crystal Lake Central’s no huddle, quick-strike offense to make noise against Woodstock North.
The Tigers appeared headed into halftime holding a nine-point lead Friday, but an interception by senior safety Luke Francis set up Central on the Thunder 35-yard line with 1:16 left in the second quarter. Two plays and 23 seconds later, Central senior quarterback Kyle Lavand connected with junior wide receiver Jack Ortner for a 20-yard score.
It was one of five Tigers scoring drives that lasted two minutes or less, and their offensive outburst carried Central to a 46-33 Fox Valley Conference Fox Division win against Woodstock North. With the win, Central (6-1, 4-0 FVC Fox) clinch a playoff berth.
"It keeps getting better every week," Lavand said of the offense. "It's exciting to see how it's coming together finally. ... I think [opponents] have a lot to prepare for. We have a lot of weapons on offense."
Lavand and Ortner were a deadly combination for Central. Lavand completed 16 of 29 passes for 345 yards and five touchdowns, and Ortner was often his go-to target, whether it was on slant routes or deep balls. Ortner hauled in eight receptions for 236 yards and three touchdowns.
"We have good chemistry on and off the field," Ortner said. "I usually get open and he usually hits me. Lately, we've been having a lot of success. Usually, we just take whatever the defense gives us."
Woodstock North’s offense put together a seven-minute, 14-play drive to open the game, but the Thunder were forced to punt after the Tigers’ defense sacked quarterback Jimmy Krenger, facing third-and-10 at Central’s 25-yard line.
The Tigers immediately put points on the board. Lavand orchestrated a 14-play drive that ended on a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Eric Hjerstedt for a 7-0 Central lead. Although the Thunder again had a chain-moving drive on their next possession, Woodstock North couldn’t get the ball into the end zone and was forced to settle for a 26-yard field goal for their first points on the game.
Central had a chance to go up by three scores midway through the second quarter, but a holding penalty negated a 78-yard touchdown pass and ultimately had to punt. Woodstock North built off the defensive stand and answered with a 47-yard touchdown run from Jordan Plummer to cut Central’s lead, 13-10, with 3:56 left until halftime.
However, Central punched in the ball on their ensuing possession – running back Ryan Williams’ second touchdown of the game – for a nine-point lead. Williams finished with 127 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
"We tried man, we tried zone there's just not a lot of solutions when somebody's bigger, faster, stronger than you," Thunder coach Jeff Schroeder said. "That being said, our kids batttled toe to toe."