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Cullen, Conant pass by Hoffman
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/1/2011 1:48 AM

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Conant quarterback Matt Cullen calls the linemen the "heart and soul" of his offense.

"That's where everything starts," he said.

Cullen sure finished things off on Friday night.

With his team nursing a 6-0 lead at Hoffman Estates' Dennis Garber Stadium, Cullen struck for 4 touchdown passes in the third quarter and finished with a career-high five in the Cougars' 42-0 Mid-Suburban West football triumph.

"At half, we just went into the locker room and got fired up," Cullen said. "We knew that (6-0) shouldn't have been the score. We just came out and did what we had to do. We executed our stuff."

The execution looked like a thing of beauty at times.

Twice, Cullen found Tim Manczko on perfectly-timed sideline patterns, both for 25-yard scores in a 29-point third quarter as the Cougars (5-1, 1-1) became playoff eligible.

Cullen also threw a 29-yard strike to tight end Nick Blaha, who caught the pass in traffic in the back of the end zone. That play came shortly after Cullen opened the second half with a 42-yard TD toss to Tom Zidek.

Zidek was also on the receiving end of the only TD in the first half, a 27-yard reception from Cullen with 3:34 left in the second quarter. That capped one of only two possessions Conant had in the first half.

"I would say we ran our game plan to a T in the first half," said Hoffman coach Bill Helzer. "We really didn't mind our position at half. We felt confident with our defense.

"But I really don't know what happened in the third quarter. Give a lot of credit to their quarterback. He made some nice passes down the sidelines."

Cullen, who threw his first interception of the season when it bounced off a receiver and into the hands of Alex Proskey late in the first quarter, finished 13-of-17 for 204 yards.

"He has really done what we've needed and that is not easy for a kid," said Conant coach Bill Modelski. "He just makes good choices. And the offensive line (Alex Pope, Andrew Engel, Omar Gonzales, Kevin Modelski and Paul Perschon) did a nice job."

Hoffman (0-6, 0-2) senior guard Kyle Hendle suffered a shoulder injury and will probably miss a few weeks, according to Helzer.

"That hurt us," Helzer said. "Things kind of snowballed without him in the second half."

Conant took advantage of 4 turnovers in the second half, including a blocked punt by Kramer Brandt allowing Fred Wortham to recover the ball at the Hawks' 29.

Brandt also had an interception at the Hawks' 25 and linebacker Gino Prestia stripped the ball from a running back and went 20 yards for a TD. Brandon Pflanz also recovered a fumble, and linebacker Joey Faso had an interception and a big second-half sack for the Cougars.