CRYSTAL LAKE – Cary-Grove senior Matt Gerebizza struggled to articulate his thoughts after what had just transpired at Prairie Ridge Athletic Stadium.
“It’s surreal,” Gerebizza said. “Absolutely surreal. I can’t even put it into words.”
Gerebizza may not have been alone.
The Trojans shocked the Fox Valley Conference Friday night by taking down Prairie Ridge, 22-21, in overtime in their FVC Valley Division game. After Quinn Baker’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Zach Marszal in fourth-and-goal, C-G coach Brad Seaburg opted to go for the two-point conversion.
Running back Ryan Mahoney took the pitch around left side, after Gerebizza and tight end Sean Gibbons, and just stretched the ball over the goal line, setting off a wild celebration as C-G players ran all over the field.
The Trojans (7-2 overall, 4-2 FVC Valley), ranked No. 10 in Class 6A, prevented a perfect regular season for Prairie Ridge (8-1, 5-1), which shares the division title with Crystal Lake South. More importantly for C-G, it took down one of the other FVC heavyweights after close losses to South and Jacobs.
“After losing to Jacobs and South, we had to come out and win against a really good team,” Gerebizza said.
Prairie Ridge, ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, scored first in overtime and kicked the extra point for a 21-14 lead. When Baker was dropped at the 11, forcing fourth-and-goal, it looked dim for the Trojans, who do not throw the ball often or very successfully.
Marszal, a defensive back, was inserted and found an open spot in the end zone for a sliding catch. Seaburg hesitated, then called the kicking team back to the sideline.
“It wasn’t looking great, then we scored on fourth down and I thought, ‘What the heck,’ ” Seaburg said. “Zach didn’t have any receptions on offense, but he has about five on defense. That might be more than our leading receiver.”
Baker, who led all players with 25 carries for 140 yards, started off the field after the overtime touchdown.
“I was in complete agreement [with going for two],” he said. “We had it. We all had the drive, and it showed.”
C-G had controlled most of the play until late in the game. The Trojans generated enough offense to eat up time, while their defense kept the Wolves’ high--powered offense under wraps most of the game.
Prairie Ridge faced fourth-and-10 at its 23 with less than 2 minutes remaining when quarterback Nick Nissen fired a pass to wide receiver Sean Valentine at the 40 on a hook-and-lateral. Running back Jordan Getzelman fielded Valentine’s pitch and raced down the left sideline for a 77-yard touchdown.
The Wolves had the momentum from that point until C-G’s fourth-down play in overtime, when the Trojans stole back what had been their game most of the night.
“It was a great job by Cary playing hard for four quarters,” Wolves coach Chris Schremp said. “They did some things different and took away our big-play capabilities and made us work for everything we got.”
Nissen scored on a 6-yard run on the second play of overtime and Connor Greenwald’s extra point made it 21-14. Mahoney ran for 1 yard, Baker ran for 1 and Wolves linebacker Collin Corcoran then caught Baker for a 3-yard loss.
“We just put that play in this week and we executed it perfectly,” said Baker of the touchdown. “Our defense played one of the best games it’s played all season. This was such a big game. It was always in the back of our minds all season.”