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Crystal Lake Central holds off McHenry

McHENRY – Three was Crystal Lake Central’s magic number on Friday night.

Tigers quarterback Colton Madura wears jersey No. 3, he was directly in all three Tigers’ touchdowns and the Tigers earned a 20-17 victory over McHenry in their Fox Valley Conference football game at McCracken Field.

Both offenses needed time find the groove early in the game. Central intercepted McHenry and the Warriors recovered a Central fumble on each team’s opening possession. McHenry kicker Nathaniel Wirch who put the first points on the board by booting a 25-yard field goal to close out the first quarter.

The second quarter belonged to Madura and the Tigers (6-2, 6-2 FVC). Madura threw a pair of 24-yard touchdown passes allowing Central to take a 13-3 lead into halftime.

Wide receiver George Dimopoulos caught the first touchdown ending a six play, 67-yard drive. Dimopoulos finished with three catches for 73 yards.

Madura escaped the rush on his second touchdown pass and scrambled to find Charles Fleming in the end zone.

The scoring picked up again in the fourth quarter. McHenry’s Andrew Hettermann ran in from 9 yards out and Hoffman scored on a 2-yard touchdown run.

In between those scores, though, Madura added an 8-yard touchdown run that proved to be the winning score. Madura went 6 of 15 passing for 113 yards and rushed for 114 yards on 15 carries.

“We came together as a team, we still have things to work on, but we executed and we just have to keep bringing it each week,” Madura said.

McHenry (1-7, 1-7) played hard and physical all night. On defense, senior defensive lineman Tyler Groves had two tackles for loss in the first half and Evan Griffiths, Lleyton Grubich and Ty Linker each added one in the second half. The Warriors pushed the Tigers to the limit on both sides of the ball.

With leading rusher Brody Hallin out with an injury, the Warriors went to the air more than usual. Quarterback Andrew Hoffman was up for the added work.

Hoffman, a senior, was 19 of 29 passing for 293 yards, while also rushing for a touchdown. Kyle Kaempf was his favorite target with eight catches for 134 yards.

“We battled really hard against a really good football team, we really picked it up at the end, so this was a tough one for us tonight,” Kaempf said.

Warriors coach Jon Niemic concurred.

“Our effort was there all night, really proud of the guys, but you’re looking at four or five plays that might have gone the other way and it’s a different story for us,” Niemic said.

With a playoff spot clinched, Central knows there are things to still iron out heading into the final week of the regular season.

“We have to control the controllables,” Tigers linebacker Nico Acevedo said. “We have to start earlier and not be so much of a second-half team.”

The Tigers finish the regular season next week against Prairie Ridge.

“I like the grit of our team, we had players step up tonight to make big plays, they keep battling and fighting no matter what is going on,” Central coach Jon McLaughlin said.