Jaylen Calhoun’s returns kickoff for score, give Prospect lead for good in win over Buffalo Grove

Prospect logo

MOUNT PROSPECT – Jaylen Calhoun enjoyed quite a moment in potentially his last home game at George Gattas Stadium in Mt. Prospect on Friday night.

His 93-yard kickoff return, following a 42-yard pick-6 by Buffalo Grove senior Anthony Bernardo, gave Prospect the lead for good in Prospect’s 46-20 win over the Bison in an opening-round game of the Class 7A state playoffsThe Knights (8-2) advance to face defending 7A champion Mount Carmel (9-1) next week.

“I saw a hole,” Calhoun said of his first kickoff return of his two-year varsity career. “It was wide open and it was too big not to take it. I had to back up my team after they got that interception return. I love this team so much. I didn’t play too much last season so to do this in my last home game is so very special.”

His big special teams play provided a spark in the defense which forced a four-and-out and the Knights were able to sack the punter on fourth down to take over on the Bison 21-yard line.

Five payers later quarterback Jack Skoog went right up the middle for a 2-yard score and then he raced in on the 2-point conversion to give Prospect an 18-6 lead with 3:36 left in the first quarter.

“I thought the defense played really well tonight,” said Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf. “They were put in some difficult spots at times and they continued to battle so I was super happy with their performance.

“I thought ‘Crash’ (George Davis) played really well and I was really proud of our secondary. I thought they did a really nice job. There were some penalties called against them but they had a real short memory and made some big plays.”

Buffalo Grove pulled within 18-13 when quarterback Payton Diaz tossed a 4-yard pass to Matthew Maradkel with 5:48 left before halftime.

But the Knights responded with a big play on offense when Skoog fired a perfect pass to Nicholas Carlucci in the middle of the field for a 31-yard TD to make it 25-13 with just 29 seconds left to half.

Diaz marched BG 81 yards to start the second half and the Bison trailed 25-20 after Carson Gerhardt’s extra point.

But Prospect answered with its own 58-yard scoring drive, capped by Skoog’s 9-yard pass to Nathan Cichy that made it 32-20 with 3:22 left in the third quarter.

The Knights’ defense came up with another four-and-out stop and Prospect went 68 yards in three plays capped by Skoog’s 49-yard TD pass to Carlucci, who raced nearly 40 yards after the catch down the sideline to make it 39-20.

Noah Easter, who rushed for 114 yards, capped the scoring on a 19-yard TD run with 4:47 left in the game.

“To come from having the hardest schedule in the state last season and just making the playoffs 4-5, and then doing what we did this season, I can’t say how proud I am of this team,” Diaz said. “I know it didn’t end the way we wanted but I’m still proud of how our guys played this season.”

BG coach Jeff Vlk was just as proud.

“This is a senior class that went 0-6 as freshmen so to have them end up 6-4 as seniors is a pretty awesome accomplishment,” he said. “We are very proud of these kids and hopefully they’ve set the tone for next year.

“I thought a lot of different kids stepped up at different times. On the interior line, I thought Caden Watson was just an absolute force. Everyone took their turns. That’s kind of what this team has been about. There was no one superstar so everyone took their turns and I was proud of the way we played and the effort they gave. I was very happy with the season.”