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Teams rarely overcome fumbling the ball away three times, let alone all in the fourth quarter, but Cary-Grove was able to survive its miscues, edging Crystal Lake Central 7-0 in Saturday’s Class 6A quarterfinal in Cary.
The Trojans will meet Lake Forest next week in the Class 6A semifinals.
“That was just a hard fought total team victory,” Trojans quarterback Quinn Baker said. “Football is a team game and this exemplified it. We fumbled and the defense picked us up. That’s what football’s about.”
Cary-Grove (12-0) scored the only points of the game with just 21.5 seconds remaining before halftime as Ryan Mahoney (10 carries, 72 yards) broke wide left and dive into the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown run.
The host Trojans were able to move the ball, but Crystal Lake Central limited the big plays. Kyle Norberg collected 137 hard-earned yards on 31 carries but could not to add to his season touchdown total of 23.
“Our [defense] has been doing that all year long,” Crystal Lake Central coach Matt Fralick said. “They played great and we pride ourselves on our defense. I’m really proud of them. I’m proud of the whole team.”
Crystal Lake Central (9-3) drove the ball down to the Trojans' 4-yard line to open the second half and attempted a fake field goal on fourth down, but the Trojans thwarted their trickery.
“We knew we were going to have to score a touchdown to win the game,” Fralick said. “A field goal wouldn’t do it. That was the thinking.”
The Trojans fumbled on their final three possessions, but the Tigers were unable to take advantage. They got their final chance on the Trojans' 30-yard line with 1:20 without any timeouts, but turned the ball over on downs.
Despite not completing a pass, Baker (0-for-2) rushed for 52 yards on 18 carries.
Tigers quarterback Kyle Lavand completed 16 of 26 passes for 133 yards, and sophomore Jack Ortner had seven catches for 53 yards. The Tigers were limited to 43 rushing yards.