CL Central pulls away from Burlington Central in 3rd quarter
Both Burlington Central and Crystal Lake Central knew that the first drive of the second half was critical to the outcome of their Fox Valley Conference game Friday night on Rocket Hill.
Burlington Central, trailing 14-10 at the half, would have the first possession of the third quarter. A Rocket touchdown would put the team in front and their time-consuming ground game would limit the Tigers' scoring opportunities.
The opening second half drive ended at Crystal Lake Central's 24-yard line when the Rockets could not convert a 4th-and-3. The Tigers responded with two second-half TDs on their way to a 28-16 victory.
Crystal Lake Central (5-2, 5-2) became playoff eligible with the win. The Tigers will need to win one of their two remaining games to clinch a playoff berth. The loss eliminated the Rockets (2-5, 2-5) from the postseason.
"At the half we told the kids we had to get a stop right off the bat and we needed to come out and score," said Crystal Lake Central Coach Jon McLaughlin. "I thought that would give us a little bit of room and we would kind of go from there."
Burlington Central coach Brain Melvin believed the stalled third quarter possession swung the game the Tigers' way.
"That first drive stalled and that was a big momentum change right out of the half," said Melvin.
Crystal Lake Central widened its lead to 21-10 on its ensuing possession. A 35-yard scoring pass from quarterback Colton Madura to George Dimopoulos capped an 8-play, 77-yard drive. Madura had a hand in most of the 428 yards the Tigers gained. The senior rushed for 146 yards on 17 carries. and completed 8 of 11 passes for 207 yards.
The Tigers extended their lead to 28-10 early in the fourth quarter on Brent Blitek's second touchdown of the night, a 17-yard run. The senior gained 76 yards on 8 carries. Blitek also caught two Madura passes for 78 yards.
Burlington Central scored the final TD of the night. With 6:58 left to play, quarterback Shawn Adkerson (81 yards on 13 carries) crossed the goal line on a 1-yard plunge.
Melvin said his squad was successful in limiting the Tigers' time of possession, but that Rockets could not capitalize on their scoring drives.
"We really wanted to keep their offense off the field. I think we did that. We just didn't finish our drives," said the Rockets coach. "We ran 80 plays which is the most we've ever run. We just have to finish those drives."
The Rockets opened the game's scoring. Griffin Kollhoff's 30-yard field goal at the 3:21 mark of the first quarter put the Rockets up 3-0.
Crystal Lake Central took a 7-3 lead on its next possession, scoring on a 2-yard Blitek run.
The Tigers widened their lead to 14-3 in the second quarter on Madura's 30-yard run. The drive started when Jackson Fleming intercepted an Adkerson pass.
With 25 seconds left until halftime, the Rockets narrowed the gap to 14-10. Gavin Sarvis, who ran for 103 yards on 23 carries, crossed the goal-line on a 5-yard plunge.