High School: Week 8 roundup
FOX LAKE, Ill. -- No one, not even the students at Grant High School, gave the host Bulldogs much of a chance against Antioch on Friday night. The unbeaten Sequoits boasted the North Suburban Prairie's best defense, had already clinched a spot in the postseason and rolled into Fox Lake having won their four previous road games by an average of just over 18 points. None of it mattered, however, as Grant forced four turnovers en route to its sixth win of the season, a 22-14 upset win over No. 17 Antioch (7-1, 4-1).
"This may not have been our biggest win [since I started coaching], but it's definitely our most satisfying," said Grant head coach Kurt Rous. "It was a great program victory for us."
After a sloppy first quarter, Antioch struck first when senior running back Danny Arden (151 yards, TD) capped off a seven-play, 88-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run with under five minutes to play in the first half.
Antioch carried its 7-0 lead into the second half, but the momentum quickly turned Grant's way when the Bulldogs (6-2, 5-1) recovered a pooch-kick to start the third quarter. Although the Bulldogs' drive would stall, they forced their third Sequoits fumble three plays later and converted the turnover into a 42-yard touchdown pass from Alex Villa to fellow senior Jerry Gaylor; Grant would miss the extra point.
Antioch punted on its first drive of the second half and Grant looked as if it was going to do the same, but the Bulldogs instead called for a fake punt that sprung senior Dillon Watters down the left sideline for a 65-yards touchdown run. Junior Kyle Whitman added to the lead with a successful two-point conversion run that pushed Grant's lead to 14-7 late in the third quarter.
"Coach [Tom] Evans designed that play and it was wide open - I just ran," said Watters. "I knew I had it right away, once I saw the corner turn his back and watched their safety go to the other side of the field. It was all green."
Antioch would fight back and tie the game in the fourth when quarterback Josh Anttila ran for a 13-yard touchdown with 8:30 remaining, and for a while it looked like the conference rivalry was headed for overtime.
That is, until Villa led the Bulldogs on a six-pay scoring drive that concluded one minute after it started as Whitman carried eight-yards for the game-winning touchdown with :45 left on the clock. Watters then put the game on ice with his own two-point conversion run.
"Our team has been fighting all season -- this has been a great comeback since starting 1-2," said Vila. "To be in first place [in the division] feels amazing. I'm speechless right now."
The win guarantees Grant a spot in the IHSA State Playoffs and at least a share of the North Suburban Prairie title. The Bulldogs will finish the regular season next Friday at Warren.
Antioch will finish up at home against North Chicago and the Sequoits now know that they can't take any opponent lightly.
"We can't underestimate anyone," said Arden. "We came in here thinking we were going to win but we'll need to refocus and get back to the basics next week."
Player of the game: Grant QB Alex Villa was 7-of-12 passing for 99-yards and at TD with 96 yards rushing on 17 carries; Antioch senior RB Danny Arden had 151 yards rushing on 22 carries, TD.
Stat of the game: Grant is now 5-2 against Antioch since the Sequoits moved into the North Suburban Prairie.
It was over when: Three things happened: Whitman scored on an eight-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to play in the game, Watters punched in the ensuing two-point conversion and the Bulldogs intercepted Anttila's desperation pass in the game's final seconds.
Quote of the Night: "I heard kids in the hallway saying that they weren't coming to the game because we got blown out last year. Nobody gave us a chance to win except the guys on the field and our coaches. That town up to the North thought they would come in and destroy us and all season long I've been hearing about how good [Antioch is]. We come out and play high school football. We don't do anything flashy and tonight we did some good things." - Grant head coach Kurt Rous.