Cutting it close
Photo: Wide receiver Dylan Nauert gets away from a Brooks tackler during Kaneland’s 25-24 road win on Saturday. Photo by Ryan Wells
Knights overcome slow start for 25-24 win
by Mike Slodki
CHICAGO—It wasn’t the start the Kaneland Knights football outfit wanted, but it’ll take the finish.
A late touchdown pass from junior quarterback Drew David to receiver Zack Martinelli with 3:11 remaining in the fourth quarter capped the comeback mountain against Chicago’s Brooks Prep Eagles on Saturday for a 25-24 week 1 win.
The second-half flurry completed a 24-6 comeback over the vastly improved hosts at Gately Stadium, which lays a field goal away from Chicago State University.
It was 365 days earlier that Kaneland’s attack produced a running clock for the entire second half in a 44-0 rout over Brooks.
Saturday’s contest echoed last year’s 17-point comeback win in September 2011 at DeKalb, and was a mirror image of sorts to Montini Catholic’s late comeback over Kaneland in the Class 5A State semis.
Kaneland has now won 20 consecutive regular season games in a row, and 25 of its last 27.
The streak was in jeopardy often on Saturday, due to the offensive output from Brooks quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw and tailback Cleveland Clark. Brooks tallied 324 total yards.
“They were running sweeps outside and then started running some options, and we had problems with our option responsibility,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “In the second half, we made some adjustments and tried to bring a little heat from the outside.”
For Kaneland, David went 14-for-30 for 275 yards with two touchdown throws and a pick.
Martinelli caught six passes for 163 yards and two scores.
In the first quarter, Brooks hit paydirt first on its second drive, when Clark powered in from the one-yard line with 3:14 remaining for a 7-0 lead after a nine-play drive.
Dylan Nauert helped answer with a reception, and combined with a face mask penalty, the play netted 30 yards. Back Nate Dyer scored the first Knights touchdown of 2012 with a six-yard plunge, but Matt Rodriguez missed the point afterward to keep it 7-6 with :57 left.
Brooks continued to control the ball and clock in the following frame, and it led to a 21-yard field goal by Jesus Miranda with 5:12 to go in the second quarter for a 10-6 lead.
A Nauert touchdown pass was called back due to offsetting penalties, and the Knights were forced to punt.
Brooks made good on the new opportunity with a Clark five-yard touchdown run to make it 17-6 with :23 left in the half.
Bradshaw accounted for a 39-yard touchdown run on an option play to make it 24-6 with 4:32 to go, but Martinelli caught a 62-yard rainbow 12 seconds later to make it 24-13.
The fourth quarter started to shift the way of KHS, and after a Brooks punt, Nauert’s 48-yard catch brought the ball into Eagles territory. Nine plays later, Dyer’s two-yard touchdown run with 8:29 left closed the gap to within 24-19 after a missed two-point try.
Brooks punted again, allowing Kaneland to orchestrate its go-ahead drive. Martinelli grabbed a 29-yard slant pass to set up his touchdown reception that saw him juke a defender on a screen.
‘We’ve had a lot of hitches all week,” Martinelli said. “We’re coached to turn outside and I saw him turn inside.”
Martinelli knew the offensive side of the ball had to adjust in the final two quarters.
“I talked to Drew at halftime and told him it was just like DeKalb,” Martinelli said. “We’ve got to step it up and calm down. Once he calms down, Drew is probably one of the best quarterbacks in the state.”
Kaneland travels to Huntley High School to face the Red Raiders on Friday, Aug. 31. Kaneland has earned the upper hand in the last three meetings.