CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. --The 10th ranked Prairie Ridge Wolves have showcased their big-play offense throughout the season. On Friday night, the Wolves showcased their big-play defense and special teams as well, forcing five turnovers and scoring on a pair of kick returns in a 41-16 Fox Valley Valley win at No. 16 Crystal Lake South.
The Gators coughed up two turnovers on their first two possessions of the game and Prairie Ridge had no trouble capitalizing. Senior quarterback Nick Nissen completed his first pass of the game to Sean Valentine for a 39-yard touchdown; Nissen finished just 2-7 for 47 yards, but he would later add a 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Prairie Ridge (6-0, 3-0) took a 20-0 lead into halftime thanks to back-to-back highlight reel touchdowns from junior Jordan Getzelman. Getzelman gave the Wolves a two-touchdown lead with a 40-yard punt return in the second quarter and soon after found pay dirt on a 45-yard run of the middle of the Gators defense.
"Our goal is to get three yards each play. With that, you open up the big play and our linemen do a great job of getting down field and that makes the difference," Getzelman said. "We were kind of afraid playing [Crystal Lake South] last season and we didn't want to play that way this year. This game was won in the trenches - it was a great win."
It looked as if CL South (5-1, 3-1) was on the verge of a comeback late in the second half, but Prairie Ridge answered every move the Gators made. CL South receiver Brad Walovitch caught a 36-yard pass from Austin Fowler on a fourth down play of the third quarter that set up a Karl Mikulec 1-yard touchdown run and Walovitch would add a 27 yard field goal one drive later to pull the Gators within 20-10.
Prairie Ridge was struggling to find its offense, but the Wolves' defense pounced on a Gators' fumble one minute into the fourth quarter and Nissen would cross the goal line on the very next snap.
Another Gators' fumble led to yet another Wolves 1-play touchdown drive as Connor Greenwald reached the end zone with a 2-yard dive and Prairie Ridge put the icing on the cake after Walovitch caught a 23-yard touchdown pass with 5:32 to play; Prairie Ridge junior Sean Folliard scooped up the ensuing onside kick and ran 48 yards for the game's final score.
To say the least, Wolves head coach Chris Schremp was pleased that his team took care of business in all three phases.
"We know we have a pretty good team and it was definitely a great team victory for us," Schremp said. "We really can't ask for more."
By no means did Chuck Ashmann feel that the loss would derail the Gators. In fact, he and his team are hoping they will get the same chance Prairie Ridge received last year; after CL South beat the Wolves in the regular season, Prairie Ridge eliminated their rivals from the Class 6A playoffs. Though CL South is currently listed as a Class 7A school, there is still a chance that the Gators will be sent back down.
"We actually have a lower enrollment this year than we did last year," said Ashmann. "We're going to be on the bubble again this season so we'll see. [Right now] we're focused on getting back after it and getting things rolling again next week."
Player of the game: Prairie Ridge - RB Jordan Getzelman: 7 carries, 102 yards, TD and a 40-yard punt return TD; CL South - WR Brad Walovitch 8 catches, 117 yards, TD and a 27-yard FG.
Stat of the game: Prairie Ridge scored on a punt return and onside kick return... it's four other touchdowns came on drives lasting two, three, one and one play respectively.
It was over when: Folliard returned the fourth quarter onside kick for a 48-yard touchdown.
Quote of the night: "I'm speechless. I saw a gap and I took it. Just speechless." Sean Folliard on his game-capping kick return for No. 10 Prairie Ridge.