Prairie Ridge scored 35 unanswered points to beat Jacobs 35-14 in a battle of state-ranked unbeatens in Algonquin Friday, and both coaches pointed to the same play as the turning point.
Ranked No. 10 in Class 8A, Jacobs had taken a 14-0 lead and had the No. 2-ranked team in Class 6A on its heels in the second quarter after a fake punt pass from Evan Bishop to Connor Conzelman kept another drive alive.
"We practiced that one all week," Bishop said.
However, the march by Jacobs (6-1, 3-1 FVC Valley) was stopped in the red zone when the Golden Eagles went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Prairie Ridge 15-yard line. Running back Caz Zyks was denied on a play called 16 hammer, a double dive.
"We had a lot of momentum," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "That's why it would have been so important to go up 21-0. Instead, they went the other way."
Prairie Ridge (7-0, 4-0) senior linebacker Brad Simms made that important tackle. He entered the ballgame on a bad ankle and knifed through the line to stop Jacobs running back Caz Zyks for no gain on the play.
"He hadn't practiced all week because of the ankle, but he made a great play when we needed it," Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp said of Simms.
It wasn't as though Jacobs didn't have other chances. In fact, the Golden Eagles led the showdown for first place in the FVC Valley 14-7 at halftime and the game was tied 14-14 heading to the fourth quarter.
However, the Wolves pulled away in the fourth quarter with their familiar combination of a powerful running game and suffocating defense.
Senior Steve Bashor's only carry of the night went for 31 yards down to the Jacobs' 17-yard line, and fullback Connor Greenwald scored three plays later on a 4-yard run to put the Wolves ahead 21-14 with 10:07 left in the game.
A short Jacobs punt after a bad snap gave the Wolves great field position at the Golden Eagles' 31-yard line. Greenwald, who rushed 19 times for 76 yards, put PR ahead 28-14 seven plays later on a 2-yard plunge with 6:15 remaining.
After Corey Peterson intercepted Jason Judson for the second time, junior speedster Jordan Getzelman put the finishing touches on Prairie Ridge's victory by racing 26 yards for the final touchdown with 2:47 left.
It was the second touchdown of the half for Getzelman, whose 70-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the third quarter tied the game at 14-14.
"It was a great win after facing some adversity," said Getzelman, who finished with 146 yards rushing on 8 carries. "We came back in the second half. We knew they'd come out and use all their tricks. They got that one play (the fake punt), but I think we got more." Jacobs outgained Prairie Ridge in the first half 191 total yards to 137. The second half was a different story. The Wolves rushed for 230 yards in the second half alone while holding Jacobs to 58 yards after halftime.
"We didn't really make any major adjustments at halftime," said Prairie Ridge cornerback Corey Peterson, who intercepted Judson in the third quarter at the PR 23-yard line. "We just had to play defense like we know we can."
Jacobs took a 7-0 lead on its opening drive, an impressive 13-play, 80-yard march that culminated in an 8-yard scoring run by senior fullback Kyle Wright.
Jacobs failed to cover the ensuing onside kick, but the Eagles recovered a fumble by PR quarterback Nick Nissen on the next play and capitalized 20 plays later on a 10-yard scoring pass from Judson to Zyks.
Prairie Ridge pulled within 14-7 on a 9-yard run by Nissen.