LAKE FOREST – Cary-Grove running back Ryan Mahoney did a number on Lake Forest, running wild for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Fullback Kyle Norberg and quarterback Quinn Baker took their turns in the second half.
The Trojans’ option offense was almost unstoppable. The defense, although rattled a bit early in the game, came on strong to slow Lake Forest down in the second half as No. 1-seeded C-G defeated the No. 10 Scouts, 42-21, Saturday in their IHSA Class 6A football playoff semifinal game.
The Trojans will meet Crete-Monee (13-0) in the Class 6A state championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium. C-M, the No. 1 seed in the southern bracket, defeated Lemont, 28-27, in its semifinal Saturday.
C-G will try to win its second Class 6A state championship in four years. After being held to 272 total yards and a season low for points in their 7-0 quarterfinal victory over Crystal Lake Central, the Trojans (13-0) unleashed a wicked attack on Lake Forest.
“The whole week we’ve been practicing to have our best game in the biggest game,” Trojans offensive tackle Kyle Matthiesen said.
The only one of five first-half possessions not resulting in a C-G touchdown was when it got the ball with 43 seconds remaining.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” defensive back Jakub Ksiazek said. “All the hard work we put in during the offseason, and after watching the guys win it in 2009. It’s unbelievable.”
Lake Forest (9-4) looked as if it would not go away easily. Quarterback Andrew Clifford took the Scouts to a score on the game’s first series, marking only the fourth time all season C-G had trailed.
Mahoney raced 63 yards two plays later to even the score, then scored from 23 out on C-G’s next possession.
“Everyone did a great job blocking,” Mahoney said. “The offensive line was phenomenal. [Running back] Kaene [Connington] was phenomenal. It’s an unbelievable feeling. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s unreal. I can’t wait to go to Champaign with our team.”
Connington had blocks on the edge to spring Mahoney on both runs. The Scouts came back to tie the score at 14-14, but C-G added two touchdowns in the second quarter to grab control. The second score came when the Trojans went 91 yards in 2:27.
“We like to be the guys who can get the job done,” Matthiesen said of the line. “We like to be the ones who are counted on in that situation.”
Norberg, who didn’t touch the ball until the second quarter, scored on runs of 3 and 26 yards in that quarter.
“That was huge,” C-G coach Brad Seaburg said. “We knew we were getting the ball to start the second half. We were able to run the ball, that’s what we intended to do coming in here. We felt as long as we were able to gain 5 or 6 yards, and break off some long runs, we could do what we wanted to on offense.”
Mahoney finished with 185 yards, Norberg had 160 and Baker 101. As a team, the Trojans rolled up 512 yards, all rushing, their fourth-highest total of the season.
Clifford completed 11 of 18 in the first half for 143 yards and was limited to 6 of 16 for 74 yards in the second half.
“We got more pressure on the quarterback in the second half,” Ksiazek said. “At halftime we made some changes. We had the right mindset and attacked their defense better. We were able to stop them.”
Norberg scored on 26-yard run in the third quarter and Lake Forest answered with another Clifford scoring pass to David Glynn to make it 35-21 late in the quarter. Baker sealed the game with a 10-yard touchdown run with 3:44 remaining, starting off the celebration on C-G’s side.
“We just weren’t particularly good about making plays to stop them on defense,” Scouts coach Chuck Spagnoli said. “If you take away something, you give them something else up. You’re not able to practice against it the way they run it.”