CARY – When it comes to football bucket lists, Cary-Grove’s Tyler Pennington has experienced just about everything a player could ask for. Playoff victories? Yup. 100-yard games? Sure. Touchdown runs? He had one Saturday.
But Saturday afternoon, when the lightning-suspended game resumed, the senior running back enjoyed a football first when he caught a 3-yard touchdown pass.
“Never done that,” he said after the Trojans' 38-28 victory over Wheaton North at Cary-Grove High School.
Pressed to think of a time when he might have caught a touchdown, Pennington finally remembered one.
“Once,” he said, his eyes lighting up above his smudged eye black. “I was 6. It’s been a while.”
Pennington, who carried the ball 20 times for 78 yards, isn’t alone. The Trojans ran the ball 48 times, while throwing it just seven this weekend. Compare that with Wheaton North, which threw the ball 50 times — yes, 50 — out of the spread.
This is by design, of course. The dominant offensive line and efficient option offense is Cary-Grove’s identity. It’s the reason the Trojans are ranked No. 3 in Class 7A.
“Everything that we do in our passing game is based off of some kind of action,” said Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg. “It’s all about establishing our running game before we even consider throwing the ball.”
But while the Trojans' passes were certainly infrequent, they were also effective. Highly effective. Consider the results on quarterback Jason Gregoire’s four completions:
- A 7-yard completion.
- A 32-yard pass that to set up a scoring drive.
- A fourth-and-1 conversion.
- The touchdown to Pennington.
The fourth-and-1 call was the boldest call of the bunch, as it came on a critical drive with the Trojans leading just 14-7 in the second quarter.
“It was coach Seaburg’s [call] all the way,” said Gregoire, who rushed for 51 yards and passed for 52. “We thought we could get over the corner, because the corner was biting up. He did exactly what we thought and it was wide open. It was just an easy pitch and catch.”
With all those successful passing plays, perhaps the Trojans might spread the ball around a little more next game. Maybe abandon that option for a 4-wide receiver set. Toss the ball 50 times like Wheaton North.
Let’s ask the guy who caught that 4th down pass and the 32-yarder. What do you say Kevin Hughes?
“Umm,” he paused, looking as if someone suggested the Trojans should try a cheerleader at quarterback. “I think we’re going to just stick with the game plan.”
Game Ball: Matt Sutherland
Sutherland rushed for 74 yards, two touchdowns and intercepted a pass on defense.
3- number of turnovers the Trojans forced. Cary-Grove intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble.
The Big Play:
On just the third play of the game, Sutherland rushed 58 yards untouched into the end zone.
Cary-Grove 38, Wheaton North 28
Cary-Grove 14 14 7 3 — 38
Wheaton North 0 7 7 0 14 — 28
CG - Sutherland 58 run (Walsh kick), 10:35
CG - Sutherland 4 run (Walsh kick), 2:04
WN - Graham 3 run (Barry kick), 11:55
CG- Hanselmann 8 run (Walsh kick), 6:54
CG- Pennington 3 run (Walsh kick), 1:39
WN- Bloss 11 pass from Anthony (Barry kick), 9:51
CG- Pennington 3 pass from Gregoire (Walsh kick), 3:47
CG- FG Walsh 32, 11:16
WN- Forcucci 29 pass from Anthony (Barry kick), 4:51
WN- Bloss 6 pass from Anthony (Barry kick), 1:13
RUSHING— Cary-Grove: Pennington 20-78, Sutherland 5-74, Gregoire 6-51, Hanselmann 3-28, Hughes 3-23, Pressley 3-14, McQuade 3-10, Sullivan 5-7. Totals: 48-265. Wheaton North: Graham 19-79, Heimburger 2-34, Forcucci 2-10, Anthony 1-1. Totals: 24-124.
PASSING— Cary-Grove: Gregoire 4-6-0-52, Sullivan 0-1-1-0. Wheaton North: Anthony 35-49-2-372, Graham 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING— Cary-Grove: Hughes 2-42, Hanselmann 1-7, Pennington 1-3. Wheaton North: Heggeland 7-96, Forcucci 7-84, Terrini 7-73, Bloss 7-71, Abay 2-20, Heimburger 2-11, Graham 2-9, Mueller 1-8.
TOTAL TEAM YARDS: Cary-Grove 317, Wheaton North 496
SOPHOMORE SCORE: Wheaton North 25, Cary-Grove 12