Cary-Grove makes statement with 19-play drive in Class 6A semifinal win against Lake Zurich

Trojans go 80 yards in 9 minutes, 42 seconds in eventual 28-10 victory

Cary-Grove's Peyton Seaburg tries tavoid the tackle of Lake Zurich's Cason Gwizdala and Nolan Siko during a IHSA Class 6A semifinal playoff football game on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at Lake Zurich High School.

LAKE ZURICH – Cary-Grove had a drive to remember to start the second half against Lake Zurich on Saturday.

The Trojans, who scored on their final drive of the first half and made a stop on defense to go into halftime with a two-score lead, marched 80 yards on 19 plays while chewing up 9 minutes, 42 seconds of clock.

Sophomore fullback Logan Abrams, who bullied the Bears all afternoon with four TDs, put the final exclamation on the impressive drive with a 7-yard run.

“It was definitely that next step in breaking their will, which is what we do,” Trojans junior quarterback Peyton Seaburg said. “That drive in the second half, that first drive, it’s going to be a statement drive.”

The drive all but put the game out of reach for Lake Zurich, as C-G padded its lead and ran away with a 28-10 win to reach its third Class 6A state championship game since 2018.

The No. 3-seeded Trojans (11-2) will face No. 4 East St. Louis (11-2) next Saturday at Illinois State University’s Hancock Stadium in a rematch of the 2021 state title game that saw C-G upset East St. Louis 37-36.

Cary-Grove's Luca Vivaldelli makes a fourth down catch to keep Cary-Grove’s drive alive during a IHSA Class 6A semifinal playoff football game against Lake Zurich on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at Lake Zurich High School.

The Trojans converted two fourth downs on the 19-play drive, overcame two holding penalties that ultimately led to a third-and-27, converted a fake punt run and completed their first and only pass of the game.

Cary-Grove junior center Lucas Burton said it gets exhausting being on the field that long, but the pay-off is worth it.

“I get pretty tired, but it’s good because when you’re tired you know that they’re tired, too,” Burton said. “It was a great drive. We really just needed to do our jobs, and I think that’s what we did. I know (Abrams) ended up with the (touchdown), and he’s been a really big part for our team, so I’m happy he was able to do that.”

On the other side, Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz was frustrated to see his team unable to get off the field.

“Frustrating, because we had them stopped twice,” Planz said. “They had the fake punt, and we continued to push them back. Had third-and-forever, and they get a decent run that allows them to go on fourth down, and they get that.

“We got them in the situations we wanted to and didn’t finish.”

“Finishing it with a touchdown and taking off 10 minutes, I think that one was the one that really broke them.”

—  Brad Seaburg, Cary-Grove coach

The 19-play drive wouldn’t have been possible without a fake punt run at the Lake Zurich 47-yard line.

Peyton Seaburg, who also is C-G’s punter, took the snap, rolled to his left and waited before taking off and running six yards on fourth-and-3.

Later in the drive, on fourth-and-10, Seaburg connected through the air with tight end Luca Vivaldelli for 11 yards. Seaburg put the ball where only his tight end could make a catch, and Vivaldelli went up for the grab with a Lake Zurich defender all over him.

On the previous play, senior running back Andrew Prio made something out of nothing, picking up 17 yards on third-and-27.

“It’s definitely rewarding,” Seaburg said. “That was a heck of a drive, and we earned it. We had a couple of setbacks, but we just kept going. Once you punch it in at the end, that’s always a good feeling.”

Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said Saturday’s drive reminded him of his team’s 20-play, 90-yard drive in the 2018 state title game that lasted 11 minutes, 19 seconds. That drive all but clinched a 35-13 win for C-G over Crete-Monee.

“Lake Zurich fought all game,” Brad Seaburg said. “But when you’re down by three scores at that point, it’s really deflating, and I think it gives our whole team more energy. It gives everybody a boost: offense, defense and special teams.

“Finishing it with a touchdown and taking off 10 minutes, I think that one was the one that really broke them.”