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Grant's impressive turnaround continues
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/15/2011 1:20 AM

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Back in Week 4, Grant went into the locker room at halftime trailing Wauconda by 20 points, after already suffering lopsided losses to Lakes and Grayslake Central the previous two weeks.

The season could only be described as a lost cause at that point.

Somehow, though, Grant regrouped to beat Wauconda that night and hasn't lost since. The Bulldogs even clinched a playoff spot and share of the North Suburban Prairie title by knocking off previously unbeaten Antioch 22-14 on Friday.

Grant (6-2, 5-1) won in dramatic fashion, breaking the tie on an 8-yard run by Kyle Whitman with 45.7 seconds on the clock.

"Ever since that second half at Wauconda, it's like it was a new season for us," Bulldogs quarterback Alex Villa said.

"Something clicked," said Grant coach Kurt Rous. "I used an adjective you probably can't print, but ever since they decided to be men at halftime of that game, we've been doing some good things. We switched around some personnel. We switched up our defense a little bit and it's worked out pretty well for us."

Antioch, which fumbled on three of its first four offensive plays, led 7-0 at halftime. Grant is known primarily as a running team, but got on the board with a 42-yard pass from Villa to Jerry Gaylor.

The home team took its first lead with a trick play that worked to perfection. On fourth-and-1 at their own 40-yard line, the Bulldogs lined up without their usual punter on the field and were called for illegal procedure. After moving back 5 yards, Rous stayed with the fake anyway.

The play looked like a snap to Whitman, the up back, and he headed right with punter Jonathon Wells as his pitch man. But the ball was actually in the hands of senior Dillon Watters, who ran untouched around the left side for a 65-yard touchdown with 3:48 left in the third quarter.

"The center kind of puts it on the side of his leg and just lean in real slow, get it and wait for it to clear," Watters said. "The corner turned his back and I just ran."

Antioch (7-1, 4-1) answered with a 13-yard sweep by quarterback Josh Anttila to even the score with 8:30 remaining. Danny Arden supplied most of the Sequoits' offense, with 152 rushing yards on 21 carries.

Grant's next drive was one of several that was spoiled by a poorly-timed penalty. With the wind at their back, the Bulldogs punted, got a defensive stop and took over near midfield with 1:45 left.

Villa connected on 3 straight passes to set up the game-winning score. Watters ran in for the 2-point conversion on another trick play.

"When they're putting everybody in the box, we can throw it a little bit," Rous said. "It's not our normal thing to do, but we'll take what our defense gives us."

"They outplayed us, trick or no trick," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "They outhit us. They didn't turn the ball over. We did. We're still a real good football team. We're sharing the division. We wanted it by ourselves. We're still division champs."

Grant, Antioch and Lakes all have one loss and will split the division title unless there's an upset next week.