Conant runs into buzz saw vs. top-seeded Lincoln-Way East

Conant ran into a team in perfect form on Friday night.

The result was a 42-7 first-round thrashing at the hands of Lincoln-Way East, the top seed in the Class 8A playoffs.

The lone touchdown by the Cougars was a 63-yard touchdown run by Antonio Ramsey, a senior who showed his track speed by darting to the left and outrunning a gaggle of Griffins with 4:22 remaining in the running-clock second half.

"It felt like we did a lot of hard work for nothing," Ramsey said of the mood as the Griffins piled up their six touchdowns in the first half. "Everything we prepared for is going down the drain. But we came back in the second half pushing hard.

"We did that. We fixed our issues."

Conant, which squeezed into the playoffs by winning in the final week of the regular season, was down a man even before the game, with head coach Bryan Stortz attending to a family matter. The Griffins didn't make it easy in any respect, holding Conant to 25 yards, all via rushes, in a first half that seemed like an eternity. Because it did, the second half was over quickly.

It was 42-0 with 3:37 left in the first half, which triggered a running clock after the intermission. That lessened the toll on the Cougars (5-5) and helped keep the top-seeded Griffins (10-0) fresh for next week's Round of 16 game at Neuqua Valley (8-2).

"We went out and set the tone early on both sides of the ball," Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. "Conant's not an easy offense to prepare for, the old-school veer and wing-T philosophy. So it was good to come out and get on top early."

The Cougars lost yardage on nine of their 28 rushes, and another four went for no gain. Aside from Ramsey's touchdown dash, Conant's longest rush was for eight yards.

"We studied our playbook and prepped really well this week," East linebacker Jake Scianna said. "Their offense is pretty simple for us. Our defense was designed to stop it, and that's what we did here tonight. Honestly, what we saw is what we expected and did a great job."

The Griffins' offense was relentless in the first half, scoring on its first six possessions and piling up 222 yards, 117 on the ground.

James Kwiecinski ran for two touchdowns (29 and 21 yards), Nuri Muhammad ran one in from the 22, Cade Serauskis scored on a 3-yard plunge, and quarterback Braden Tischer hit Serauskis on a 24-yard touchdown pass and ran for a 10-yard score as well.

"We had a good week of practice, but it's our O-line," Kwiecinski said. "It keeps getting better and better and better."

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