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Grant finishes things vs. Round Lake
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Grant's Quinton Quarles tries to grab a Round Lake fumble as the Panthers' Daniel Vega tries to recover.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Round Lake quarterback Anthony Burton is tackled by Grant's Tony DiCosola, left, and Nick Jones.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Grant's Devin McDonough, left, congratulates teammate Jonathan Wells after a first-quarter touchdown against Round Lake.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Grant's Quinton Quarles, left, and teammate Jonathan Tosti try to grab a Round Lake fumble as Daniel Vega of the Panthers tries to recover.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Grant's Kyle Whitman, upper right, scores a second-quarter touchdown against Round Lake.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Grant's Jonathan Wells, middle, scores a touchdown against Round Lake, his second of the game.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Grant's Kyle Whitman crosses the goal line for a touchdown as Round Lake's Andrew Parnell tries to hang on during Saturday's game.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Mark Gorski of Round Lake grabs Jonathan Wells of Grant by the jersey as he pulls him out of bounds during Saturday's game.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Grant's Jonathan Wells skips across the goal line ahead of Round Lake's Deangelo Lockett on Saturday.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Grant's Jonathon Wells carries the ball against Round Lake.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Grant's Kyle Whitman carries the ball as he is tackled by Round Lake's Daniel Vega during Saturday's game.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Grant quarterback Alejandro Villa thows a pass during Saturday's game against Round Lake.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/24/2011 11:24 PM

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It was a case of substance over style at Grant's homecoming football game on Saturday afternoon.

Round Lake pulled out some bling and made a splashy entrance by returning the opening kickoff 80 exhilarating yards for a touchdown.

But Grant answered the entire rest of the way by methodically grinding away for yard after yard after yard a mind-blowing 623 of them, to be exact.

The host Bulldogs gained 530 of those yards on the ground as they ran away with a 48-13 North Suburban Conference Prairie Division victory over Round Lake.

Grant, which was up 28-7 by halftime, improves to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the Prairie. Round Lake, meanwhile, drops to 1-4 overall (1-2 Prairie).

"We got off to a slow start and we made a mistake (with the kickoff return)," Grant running back Jonathon Wells said. "But then we got our intensity up and our line did a great job of blocking for us. We were able to run through a lot of holes."

The holes were not only plentiful, but often gigantic.

The Grant offensive line, which consists of Devin McDonough, Jake Mraz, Luis Echeverria, Dan Haeffele and Tyler Reynolds, was relentless in driving the Round Lake defense backwards. The Bulldogs were able to average a whopping 8.3 yards per carry.

And three Grant backs rolled up more than 100 yards, with Wells leading the way with a stunning 191 yards on just 16 carries. That's nearly 12 yards per carry for him.

Wells also scored 4 touchdowns not bad for someone who is still getting used to his new position.

Wells, who is only a sophomore and was playing on the freshman team just one year ago, started the season at fullback. But he has played the last two games as the outside back while Kyle Whitman was switched from the outside to fullback.

"I played on the outside last year so this is fine with me. I'm liking it," Wells said. "I can play both inside and out, but I can use my speed on the outside and I feel like I can see more of the field and it's more open for me."

Then again, the Grant offensive line made the inside wide open, too.

Whitman plowed his way straight ahead for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries. Quarterback Alex Villa added 103 yards on 13 carries.

"It like a three-headed monster," Grant coach Kurt Rous said of his Wells/Whitman/Villa-led rushing attack. "It's no surprise what we're going to try to do at Grant. We don't throw the ball, we don't line up in shotgun. I'd be happy if we never had to throw the ball. We win games on the ground. The games we've won this year we've pounded the ball."

But when the running game is working so well, other things open up. Like the passing game.

And the pass-reluctant Bulldogs found themselves rolling up the passing yards, too.

Villa threw for 93 yards. He completed 8 of 12 passes, spreading the wealth between four receivers. Ryan Volpe (3 catches for 35 yards) and Jerry Gaylor (3 catches for 26 yards) were Villa's most frequent targets.

"The whole team showed up this week," Whitman said. "After the way our game went against Wauconda last week (Grant rallied to win 44-41 after trailing by 20 points at halftime), we had a lot of motivation.

"At halftime of last week's game, the whole attitude of this team changed. It was like a new season for us. The seniors showed leadership, everyone stepped up and the team is coming together again."

Grant's win over Wauconda last week stopped a two-game skid.

Ironically, Round Lake also had a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Wauconda (17-14 in Week 3). But since that win two weeks ago, the Panthers have gone in the opposite direction and have lost two straight games.

"Our guys never quit. They keep coming back, they keep going hard," Round Lake coach John Coursey said. "Our effort is good, but our results are not good.

"Grant came out and was more physical than us and that was disappointing."

Grant's defense clamped down hard on the Panthers, who were limited to just 150 total yards of offense and to just 9 first downs.

Round Lake had one productive series, a five-play drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run for quarterback Anthony Burton, who rushed for 86 yards on 21 carries and completed 13-of-28 passes for 45 yards.

Still, that much-needed drive couldn't come close to topping the excitement of the 80-yard kickoff return by Daniel Vega in the game's opening moments.

"We practice (kickoff returns) a lot and we set the wedge and I broke off," Vega said. "It's going to give you momentum but we weren't able to (build off it). Their defense kept stopping us. They really tightened up on us.

"We have a lot of pride and character and we're going to fight through this adversity. No matter what, we're going to keep fighting."