CRYSTAL LAKE – Prairie Ridge found the right mindset after experiencing disappointment to end the first half.
Quarterback Joey Vanderwiel was stopped at Huntley’s 1-yard line on third down, then, in the excitement, spiked the ball on fourth down as time ran out.
Ultimately, the missed opportunity did not matter.
The Wolves came out in the third quarter even more inspired. The offense scored two quick touchdowns, the defense allowed the Red Raiders only 64 total yards and Prairie Ridge grabbed a 27-14 Fox Valley Conference victory Friday night.
The Wolves (4-0, 4-0 FVC) are the top-ranked team in The Associated Press Class 5A poll and play at Cary-Grove, which also is unbeaten and ranked No. 5 in Class 6A, next week.
“I was happy with the way we responded, very much,” Wolves coach Chris Schremp said. “We made some adjustments with some of the plays we were running and it made a big difference. We tried to break some of their defensive keys with our play calls, that really softened up the defense a little bit and helped throughout the second half.”
Dom Creatore, one of Prairie Ridge’s best defenders who also gets some touches on offense, ran 37 yards for a touchdown and the Wolves’ first lead of the game, 20-14, with 8:07 in the third.
On the next play from scrimmage, defensive lineman Gavin Tinch stipped the ball from Raiders quarterback Braylon Bower and defensive back Gio Creatore recovered. Seven plays later, Dom Creatore scored on a 2-yard run.
“We made some halftime adjustments,” Dom Creatore said. “Our coaches are really good and they said we needed t bring the intensity even more than what we were. We knew they pursued to the ball really fast. Our O-line did an amazing job in the second half stopping their pursuit.”
Prairie Ridge had two more defensive stops before a game-clinching 9:00 drive that consumed most of the fourth quarter. The Wolves got the ball with 9:32 remaining and drove from their 34 to Huntley’s 3 in 15 plays.
Huntley (3-1, 3-1) got the ball on a fumble in the end zone with 20 seconds left and took a knee on the final play.
“They’re a winning football program for a reason,” Raiders coach Mike Naymola said of the long drive. “It’s demoralizing. We had guys in position to make plays and missed tackles that could have ended drives and we missed plays on offense that could have extended drives. You can’t do that against quality teams.”
Huntley came up with the big stop at before halftime to keep the lead at 14-13. But it was all Prairie Ridge from that point.
“It was all according to plan,” Fallaw said of the third-quarter surge. “It was a good feeling. It’s good to know that when a group of guys when we go down we’re not rattled. We come back and play football and we’re not worried about what’s going on. We just play.”
Schremp smiles at how his team can turn things around in its favor.
“Our team, when we click, everything clicks,” he said. “All of a sudden, we’re like a wave. We put it all together and it’s amazing. Talking to them now and they really feel confident in themselves. When they get it going, it’s really impressive.”
Fullback Jack Finn finished with 105 yards to lead the Wolves, while Joey Vanderwiel had 84 yards and two first-half touchdowns.
Huntley running back Haiden Janke ran for 50 yards and a touchdown. Bower completed 15 of 20 passes and hit Zack Garifo for a 68-yard score in the second quarter.
“We just made too many mistakes in all three phases of the game,” Naymola said. “You can’t beat good teams like PR if you make mistakes like that. Credit to them. They brought the hammer. We knew it would be a real physical game. We tried to replicate that as much as we could. They battled for a while and a couple things went the wrong way.”
Prairie Ridge 27, Huntley 14
Huntley 7 7 0 0 – 14
Prairie Ridge 7 6 14 0 – 27]
H–Janke 15 run (Sargent kick), 6:24.
PR–J. Vanderwiel 1 run (Porter kick), 0:35.
H–Garifo 68 pass from Bower (Sargent kick), 11:27.
PR–J. Vanderwiel 1 run (run failed), 5:15.
PR–D. Creatore 37 run (Porter kick), 8:07.
PR–D. Creatore 2 run (Porter kick), 5:05.
RUSHING–Huntley: Janke 9-50, Bower 9-40, Dvorak 1-16, Garifo 1-7, Team 1-minus 1, Walker 1-minus 7. Totals: 22-105. Prairie Ridge: Finn 24-105, J. Vanderwiel 16-84, D. Creatore 5.64, Petty 4-20, L. Vanderwiel 4-9. Totals: 55-284.
PASSING–Huntley: Bower 15-20-1-157. Prairie Ridge: J. Vanderwiel 3-5-0-37.
RECEIVING–Huntley: Witt 4-36, Segarra 4-32, Walker 3-0, Garifo 2-73, Janke 2-11, Pochicha 1-5. Prairie Ridge: Loeding 1-24, L. Vanderwiel 1-6, Petty 1-5.
TOTAL TEAM YARDS–Huntley 262, Prairie Ridge 321.