Yet, Wolves coach Chris Schremp still had an uneasy feeling against his team’s fellow Fox Valley Conference heavyweight.
“You knew, in the end, that’s how it always goes,” Schremp said. “It’s going to come down to one play. That’s kind of the history of our rivalry.”
C-G roared back down the field, sparked by Peyton Seaburg’s 38-yard pass to running back Andrew Prio, then scored with 55 seconds remaining. But the extra point was wide left and Prairie Ridge had a 21-20 victory Friday night at Al Bohrer Field.
The Wolves, 5-0, 5-0 FVC and ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press Class 5A poll, are left as the lone unbeaten in the conference. C-G, ranked No. 5 in Class 6A, is 4-1, 4-1.
Either C-G or Prairie Ridge has played in every Class 6A state championship game since 2016.
Prairie Ridge ate up valuable time and finished a 70-yard drive on quarterback Joey Vanderwiel’s 5-yard touchdown and Gabe Porter’s extra point. It was a drive that exemplified the game for Prairie Ridge, which had the ball for 34:33 of the 48 minutes.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do, kill the clock and win the game,” Vanderwiel said. “It was unfortunate they got a touchdown, but getting 4 yards a play, moving the chains, killing the clock and finishing by getting into the end zone.
“It was just great execution. I made a fake to (fullback) Jack (Finn), John (Fallaw) got a great block and I cut it back into the end zone.”
Vanderwiel meshed with Finn, pulled the ball out and Fallaw was able to take out two Trojans with one block that sprung him into the end zone.
“It seemed like there may have been a miscommunication for Cary-Grove, they both slashed out,” Fallaw said. “So, it made it easy for me to hit them into each other and Joey cut it up. They stacked up and when I hit the first guy, they collided.”
C-G was not done though.
Prio ran for 15 yards, then caught a 38-yard pass from Seaburg to Prairie Ridge’s 35. Fullback Logan Abrams carried for 13, Seaburg ran for 6 and then hit Luca Vivaldelli for a 16-yard score.
On the extra point, Jadon Apgar’s kick went just wide left.
“He’s a great kicker. We had a lot of confidence,” Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. “Games don’t come down to one play. It’s a culmination of a lot of plays throughout the game. By no means is that on Jadon at all.”
Seaburg looked back more at C-G’s mistakes, with five penalties for 40 yards (while Prairie Ridge had zero) and two lost fumbles.
“The fight in our kids was fantastic. We have a group that never gives up,” Seaburg said. “The last drive was outstanding. What was frustrating, and Prairie Ridge deserved to win, they played very well, but at the same time, we just can’t make mistakes like we did and expect to win against a team like Prairie Ridge.
“It was fantastic to see the fight in our kids and to come back and handle adversity and get to that position. I’m very proud of how our kids responded.”
The score was tied 7-7 at halftime and Prairie Ridge scored on Vanderwiel’s 4-yard run in the third quarter, only to answer with Prio’s 95-yard kickoff return touchdown, which tied it back up at 14-14.
“The defenses both played well, which we were expecting,” Schremp said. “It was just us grinding out a couple drives and controlling the football. I was just happy when we had the chance to execute and make a big play, we seemed to step up. We recovered those fumbles.”
Prairie Ridge 21, Cary-Grove 20
Prairie Ridge 7 0 7 7 – 21
Cary-Grove 7 0 7 6 – 20
CG–Hornok 38 pass from Seaburg (Apgar kick), 5:19.
PR–D. Creatore 18 run (Porter kick), 1:24.
PR–J. Vanderwiel 5 run (Porter kick), 4:37.
CG–Prio 95 kickoff return (Apgar kick), 4:22.
PR–J. Vanderwiel 5 run (Porter kick), 2:09.
CG–Vivaldelli 16 pass from Seaburg (kick failed), 0:55.
RUSHING–Prairie Ridge: D. Creatore 23-124, J. Vanderwiel 14-42, Finn 11-34, L. Vanderwiel 4-5, Team 2-minus 2. Totals: 54-203. Cary-Grove: Abrams 13-64, Prio 4-59, Seaburg 3-12, Boone 1-2, Team 1-minus 1. Totals: 22-136.
PASSING–Prairie Ridge: J. Vanderwiel 5-7-0-80. Cary-Grove: Seaburg 3-4-0-92.
RECEIVING–Prairie Ridge: L. Vanderwiel 3-60, Loeding 2-20. Cary-Grove: Prio 1-38, Hornok 1-38, Vivaldelli 1-16.
TOTAL TEAM YARDS–Prairie Ridge 283, Cary-Grove 220.