CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake South coach Rob Fontana said his team had an “interesting” week of practice after letting a double-digit lead slip away against Dundee-Crown.
“I wouldn’t say it was good. I wouldn’t say it was bad,” Fontana said. “We kind of went back to basics and really put an emphasis on doing things the right way this week.”
The Gators bounced back Friday with a 34-19 Fox Valley Conference win against McHenry at The Swamp. The game was called with 2:12 remaining in the fourth quarter because of inclement weather, which had sent both teams into the locker rooms for more than 90 minutes with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
South (4-3, 4-2 FVC) had just recaptured momentum with running back Zach Borgert’s 36-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass from quarterback Ian Gorken less than a minute before the delay began.
McHenry (0-7, 0-6), which trailed, 27-3, early in the second quarter, cut its deficit to one score with 7:43 left in the third quarter on a 2-yard TD run by quarterback Braden Crowley.
Borgert’s catch and run put South back in control right before the teams were sent off.
“It’s the weirdest game I’ve been a part of,” said Borgert, who added a touchdown and 102 yards rushing on 26 carries. “It was kind of hard considering we had to stay in the locker room for over an hour. It would have been easy to lose focus that way.”
Fontana said he was worried the long delay would hurt, but the Gators’ defense came back out and immediately forced a McHenry punt.
“You always worry about those momentum swings,” Fontana said. “Are you going to flatline after that? The guys stayed pretty calm in the locker room. You don’t want them going crazy for an hour and a half. But they stayed low-key and were focused when we started to stretch back out.”
South senior Michael Helm turned in a big game, coming away with two interceptions and also making four catches for 104 yards.
He hauled in a 14-yard touchdown to open the scoring with Gorken scrambling on third-and-long to buy time for his receiver to get open.
“His ability to escape the pocket really makes it easy on the receivers,” Helm said of Gorken. “It’s really hard to cover us for six or seven seconds.”
Gorken finished 8-of-12 passing for 167 yards and three touchdowns.
Fontana, meanwhile, was happy for Helm. Among many missed opportunities for South a week ago against Dundee-Crown were a pair of dropped TDs for Helm in the second half that could have put the game out of reach.
“He takes full ownership when he makes mistakes,” Fontana said. “He’s the type of kid who’s going to step up for his teammates and say, ‘Hey, that’s on me, and I’m going to work to make sure that doesn’t happen again.’
“He’s played unbelievable for us. He plays on both sides of the ball and is a playmaker. He’s gonna make a heck of a lot more great plays for us.”
For McHenry, running back Luke Peacock finished with 42 yards on 14 carries and also returned a free kick 64 yards for a touchdown after McHenry’s defense came up with a safety with 2:24 left in the first half.