McHENRY – Every time McHenry seemed ready to put Burlington Central away, the Rockets had other ideas.
They never quit. They never went away. They never surrendered.
But neither did the Warriors. They overcame more than 100 yards in penalties and a pair of fumbles – including one at the BC goal line – and made just enough plays to hold off the Rockets, 31-22, in a back-and-forth Fox Valley Conference battle Friday at McCracken Field.
McHenry (2-1, 2-1) used a relentless ground attack that racked up 269 yards on 42 carries. Sophomore Brody Hallin rushed for 142 of those yards on 21 bruising carries and scored two touchdowns as McHenry made a second-half statement with its running game.
“At halftime we talked about the belly and power plays and how we just had to stay at it and stay after them,” said Hallin, who drew his coach’s ire with a fumble on the first play of the third quarter that set up a BC touchdown. “Yeah, I pouted a little bit after the fumble, but I knew my team was counting on me so I had to get my head straight and run hard for those guys.”
McHenry got off to a fast start after holding BC on its first possession. Two quick plays – a 21-yard jet sweep by Hallin and a 22-yard scoring run by quarterback Chris Zieba (8 rushes, 47 yards) – put the Warriors ahead two minutes into the contest.
But the Warriors didn’t score again until their final two possessions of the first half. Hallin scored on a 16-yard sweep around left, and Zieba found Adam Benton for a 12-yard scoring strike with just under two minutes left. That score was set up by the second of Logan Lucas’s two first-half interceptions.
“I was just in the right place on the second (tipped) one and made the play,” the junior said. “Our whole defense just stuck together. We got on each other a couple of times, but it was a straight, positive mindset that we had. We know things are going to go wrong, but we also know how to bounce back.”
HERE THEY COME
McHenry led, 21-0, at halftime and received the second-half kickoff, looking for an opportunity to put the game away with a third-quarter score, but Hallin’s fumble was recovered by BC’s Gavin Sarvis, who four plays later scored from the one to make it 21-7.
The Warriors stretched their lead to 24-7 on Gracie Gasmann's 24-yard field goal before Rockets quarterback Mark Ganziano (11 of 18, 107 yards) hit Nathan Arians with a 24-yard TD pass. Sarvis would later add 13-yard TD run that got the guests within 31-22.
An emotional Burlington Central coach Brian Melvin had nothing but praise for his young team.
“These kids are going to change the culture of football at Burlington Central,” Melvin said. “The junior leadership and senior leadership of this team never ceases to amaze me. I promise you, we will be a force to be reckoned with in the Fox Valley.”
McHenry coach Jon Niemiec, though not pleased with the occasional “lack of discipline” from his team, nonetheless was pleased with his team’s second straight victory.
“Our defense played great. (Burlington) made some nice adjustments at halftime, but I was so proud that our defense played all 48 minutes,” Niemiec said. “Our secondary really responded and battled. The penalties are about discipline and that’s on us as coaches. We need to do a better job preparing the kids and we will do that.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Brody Hallin, McHenry, so., RB.
The hard-running sophomore rushed 21 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns, despite taking a helmet to the back that caused him to miss a series in the third quarter. He returned after the injury and rushed 11 times for 65 yards in the game’s final 18 minutes.
BC 0 0 14 8 – 22
McHenry 7 14 3 7 – 31
M – Zieba 22 run (Gasmann kick), 10:00
M – Hallin 16 run (Gasmann kick), 2:05
M – Benton 12 pass from Zieba (Gasmann kick), 1:46
BC – Sarvis 1 run (Solomon kick), 10:00
M – Gasmann 23 FG, 4:03
BC – Arians 24 pass from Ganziano (Solomon kick), 2:57
M – Hallin 5 run (Gasmann kick), 9:50
BC – Sarvis 13 run (Sarvis run), 7:31