Grant senior John Bolton makes two-way impact in win over Lakes

Grant senior John Bolton’s job description is filled to the max.

The Augustana College recruit is a jack-of-all-trades player for the Bulldogs.

His ability to play numerous positions — and make an impact — sparked the Bulldogs in Thursday night’s Northern Lake County Conference win against Lakes.

Bolton showcased his vast skill set with 142 yards rushing, an interception and three rushing touchdowns to lead Grant to a 34-14 victory.

The Bulldogs (2-1) scored 14 points in the first half on TD runs by Bolton to bounce back from last week’s blowout loss to Grayslake North.

Bolton had his footprints all over Thursday’s win, playing a key role on offense, defense and special teams on the frigid night.

Bolton even completed 2 passes, tossing a 13-yard pass on fourth down to extend a drive and completing a point-after-touchdown 2-point completion.

“My favorite play today was winning,” Bolton said. “I’ll play wherever I have to play to win. I don’t care where. The offensive line played awesome. They made wide open holes and the quarterbacks were making great reads, so it was easy for me today.”

The Eagles (0-3) played strong in the first half but couldn’t recover from a nightmarish first half. Lakes managed just 88 yards and committed 4 turnovers in the first half.

“We’re doing some really good stuff and putting together some good drives but keep putting ourselves in a hole with mistakes and can’t climb out of it,” Lakes coach Jordan Eder said.

After Grant quarterback Rylan Art left the game with a lower right leg injury with 4:03 left in the first quarter, Bolton took on an even bigger role on offense. Art did not return to the game, finishing with 5 carries for 18 yards.

Bolton scored on TD runs of 1 and 21 yards in the first quarter. His 21-yarder came on fourth down, the second successful fourth-down conversion on the drive.

Bolton carried the ball 19 times for 68 yards in the first half. He also had a fumble recovery on a muffed punt early in the second quarter, plus a 25-yard kickoff return in the third. Later in the same drive, Bolton added punting to his busy slate of activities. On the punt recovery, Bolton chased after the loose ball, shoved a Lakes player to the ground, then pounced on the ball.

Instead of tiring in the second half due to his heavy workload, Bolton started overpowering Lakes’ defenders with his hard-charging running. He had 12 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown in the final two quarters. Bolton’s impressive performance gained another highlight, when he intercepted a pass I the fourth quarter to set up quarterback Chris Perez’s second consecutive rushing touchdown that padded the lead to 34-8.

The Bulldogs’ defense made several key plays, including forcing 3 first-half turnovers and picking up a fumble on a bad snap on a fourth down punt. Grant defensive back Nicholas Blencoe intercepted 2 passes in the final 2:02 of the first half. Blencoe nearly snared a third pick, but the ball bounced into the hands of Lakes’ receiver for a 33-yard gain. A few plays later, Lakes scored its first touchdown on Dewey’s 23-yard TD toss to Blake Winters early in the third quarter.

Grant’s strong defensive day included 2 sacks by Alex Gomez and a fumble recovery by Raymond Ross on the fourth play from scrimmage that led to Bolton’s 1-yard TD run.

“The defense played great,” Blencoe said. “We still need to get better and are starting to find our strengths.”