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Opportunistic effort from Grayslake C.
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 9/3/2011 1:49 AM

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If the Grayslake Central football field had been a classroom on Friday night, the subject would have been business, specifically capitalism.

And the host Rams would have earned an A-plus.

They were capitalizing all over the place.

Grayslake Central got a 32-21 nonconference victory over Grant by taking full advantage of multiple turnovers. Four of the Bulldogs' five first-half turnovers led directly to Grayslake Central points.

By halftime, the Rams were up 26-0.

"All those fumble recoveries, that was big," said Grayslake Central's biggest capitalist, running back Joey Valdivia. "All those turnovers were just so big for us."

Valdivia scored 3 touchdowns for the Rams and finished with 114 yards on 13 carries.

When Grant was mounting a bit of a late rally, he slammed the door with some big runs in the final minutes, including a 33-yard touchdown.

"He's a special kid who makes plays sometimes that aren't even there," Grayslake Central coach Nick Goshe said of Valdivia. "I hope college coaches request tape of him because he is talented.

"We're not dumb coaches. You get the ball to your horses and that's what we did."

The Rams, who move to 2-0 on the season, had more giddy-up to their game than just Valdivia.

Quarterback Ray Beckman kept the Grant defense honest by completing 6 passes for 79 yards and a 19-yard touchdown to Valdivia. Teddy McGraw also had some strong runs up the middle and finished with 45 yards.

"If you're going to try to take away Joey, we've got other weapons that can hurt you," Goshe said. "Joey sets the table for other kids like Ray and Teddy to do their thing."

Valdivia's late 33-yard touchdown put the Rams up 32-7 with 5:44 left. But even then, Grant didn't give up.

The Bulldogs, who drop to 1-1 on the season, scored two late fourth-quarter touchdowns in about 30 seconds, thanks to the recovery of an onside kick.

Jonathon Wells ran in a touchdown from 8 yards out and then quarterback Alex Villa hit Jerry Gaylor (9 catches, 165 yards) for a lot of clutch passes before rushing in himself for a 9-yard touchdown.

It was the second time that Villa reached the end zone. But it was the first time the touchdown counted.

On the first play of the game, Villa sprinted 80 yards for what he thought was a touchdown. But in what might have been an omen for the rest of the game, the score was called all the way back because of a holding penalty.

"We just weren't focused in the beginning. We didn't have our heads in the game and we had a lot of mental mistakes with all those fumbles," said Villa, who completed 13-of-14 passes for 183 yards and ran for 50 yards on 12 carries. "It was frustrating because we know we can be good, but then you've got all these things bringing you back like fumbles and penalties.

"We were all excited after that first play because we thought that right away we were going to have the momentum and then the penalties and the turnovers just brought us down."

The Bulldogs also got taken down by Grayslake Central's potent kicking game, which pinned them deep in their own territory on punts and put them further behind with a couple of field goals.

Rams kicker Jon Gurchak had 2 field goals (29 and 32 yards) and had plenty of room to spare. He says he's hit 57-yard field goals in practice.

Gurchak also caught 4 passes for 39 yards.

"I couldn't have gotten the ball off (on the kicks) without the offensive line," Gurchak said. "I give a lot of credit to them. They did a great job all game blocking. And I have to give a lot of credit to Ray (Beckman). He did a great job of getting me the ball on those passes.

"When we were on the sideline, it felt great to see our defense come up with all those turnovers so that we could keep our offense going."