CRYSTAL LAKE – Prairie Ridge’s offense is explosive enough to put up ample points on its own.
When the defense and special teams start pitching in with takeaways and return touchdowns, the Wolves are practically unbeatable.
Prairie Ridge took advantage of five turnovers to pull away from Crystal Lake South, 41-16, in their Fox Valley Conference Valley Division football game Friday at Ken Bruhn Field.
The Wolves (6-0 overall, 3-0 FVC Valley) built a 20-0 halftime lead with the help of two interceptions. Prairie Ridge, who is tied atop The Associated Press Class 6A poll with Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, put the game away in the fourth quarter with two fumble recoveries.
“We won with all three phases in the game,” Wolves running back Jordan Getzelman said.
“I love to help in any way I can, but it’s really the blocks. The linemen and receivers get downfield and spring me. It’s nice to have a chance to turn on the jets.”
Getzelman returned a punt 33 yards for a touchdown with 8:43 remaining in the second quarter, then scored on a 45-yard run 1:32 later.
“What a great team win,” Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp said. “Our defense really stepped up. I was impressed with how fundamentally they played, coming out low and tackling so well. Our defensive coaches do a great job of teaching tackling.”
South (5-1, 3-1) actually outgained the Wolves, 256-226, and fought its way back in the second half, pulling within 20-10 on Brad Walovitch’s 37-yard field goal with 11:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Gators, ranked No. 4 in Class 7A, had momentum after stopping Prairie Ridge’s next drive. But the Wolves’ defense came up with turnovers on South’s next two offensive plays. Linebacker Collin Corcoran recovered a fumbled exchange between quarterback Austin Fowler and running back Bryan Kazmer, and Wolves quarterback Nick Nissen scored on a 19-yard run.
On South’s next play from scrimmage, defensive back John Borst hit Gators wide receiver Will Ahsmann and popped the ball loose for linebacker Corey Peterson, who returned it to the 3. Fullback Connor Greenwald scored on the next play.
“We talk about one-eleventh, if each player does his job, we can compete,” Wolves defensive back Sean Folliard said. “We felt a little underappreciated as a defense and wanted to make a statement tonight.”
Folliard, who had a first-half interception, capped the scoring for Prairie Ridge with a 48-yard kickoff return on an onside kick with 5:23 remaining.
Fowler completed 17 of 27 passes for his career-high 226 yards, with 180 coming in the second half. The Gators had 11 first downs in the second half.
“We threw the ball well at times,” Gators coach Chuck Ahsmann said. “Prairie Ridge has a ton of skill and you just can’t give them extra opportunities. We felt pretty good when it was 20-10, then we have some unfortunate turnovers and the onside kick was crazy. All that stuff happened.”