Huntley stands tall in win over Dundee-Crown
Approximately six inches separated Dundee-Crown from cutting its deficit to a touchdown late in the first half of Friday's Fox Valley Conference football game at Huntley.
The Red Raiders were not going to back down to the challenge of being backed up against their own end zone. Senior linebacker Jack Coss stormed into the backfield and batted a fourth-down Zach Randl pass to the turf that helped propel them to a 35-7 victory.
“That was a really big stop for us on defense,” Coss said of D-C having a first-and-goal at the 2 with Huntley leading 21-7. “We had a really great game after that. We let up a touchdown earlier and we had to come back from that.”
Junior quarterback Braylon Bower (7 for 7, 74 yards) accounted for three touchdowns in the first 15 minutes on a 28-yard pass to Jacob Witt and runs of 36 and 9 yards. Two of the scores were set up by interceptions from linebackers Charlie Condon and Ryan Sweeney.
D-C (1-7, 1-7), which tied the game at 7-7 on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Zach Randl (13 for 21, 146 yards) to Kali Freeman (eight catches, 92 yards), threatened again. Torrion Bell had a tackle-breaking 31-yard catch and run on fourth down to the Huntley 2.
On the first play, Condon stuffed Freeman for a 1-yard loss on a pitch to the right side.
“Our first priority, especially on the defensive line, was to clog up the middle and force the ball outside and let our linebackers do the rest,” said junior Carter Pope, who had a sack and tackle for loss and was a key on the interior up front with sophomore Ryan Wabel. “In real short yardage we've got the confidence they're not going to get much. We knew we could stop the run.”
Coss was part of the surge that stopped Kadin Malone inches short of the end zone on second down. A third-down pass fell incomplete, and after a timeout, Randl rolled left but Coss was there to end the threat.
“I thought it would be a pass and they had been running that play the past couple of times out of that formation,” Coss said. “I read it and saw no one was blocking me. I thought, 'I'm there, let me get this ball.'”
D-C finished with 278 total yards and had seven trips into Huntley territory.
“That's our season,” said D-C coach Mike Steinhaus. “We're able to move the ball against everybody but we don't take care of the details and little things and it becomes big mistakes. We had two opportunities to run and tried to give it to our playmakers and we didn't execute.”
Huntley put away the game with two third-quarter touchdowns on a 50-yard punt return by Zach Rysavy and a 23-yard run by Haiden Janke (16 carries, 125 yards).
“That took any momentum they might have had away,” Huntley coach Mike Naymola said of the goal-line stand. “I told the guys when we play for each other, play together and play off each other we're a really tough team to stop.”