BURLINGTON – Burlington Central’s game plan was clear: stop Blake Skol.
The problem for the Rockets is that Cary-Grove is more than a one-man show.
Quarterback Luke Eleftheriou rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown and tossed three touchdown passes while Skol added two scores of his own as Cary-Grove bounced back from one of its worst defeats in recent memory with a 42-14 Fox Valley Conference victory Friday night at The Hill.
C-G (7-2, 7-2) racked up 430 total yards, 329 of which came on the ground. Eleftheriou finished with 133 yards on 10 carries. while Arik Mistak added 89 yards and Skol rumbled for 62 yards.
The energy on the Trojans’ sideline was palpable from the opening kickoff as they scored on their first four possessions and racked up 300 yards of offense en route to a 28-0 lead at the break. An apparent fifth touchdown was nullified when Eleftheriou was ruled to have fumbled the ball out of the BC end zone after a 30-yard run and dive to the pylon.
“We just had to put (the 42-7 loss to Prairie Ridge a week ago) behind us,” Eleftheriou said. “The offensive line had a great week of practice. I had no worries back there tonight. They put us in good position all night.”
Eleftheriou (4 for 7, 94 yards) found Ethan Carlson (2 catches, 76 yards) for TD strikes of 28 and 48 yards. Wade Abrams caught another scoring pass (15 yards), while Skol added a 4-yard run all before halftime.
“Obviously, (Burlington) wanted to take Blake away from us, but we were able to get the ball on the perimeter and go,” Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. “Any time you play a quality opponent like PR and get beat like we did, you’re going to have to fix things. We did that and it showed tonight.”
NO LET UP
The Trojans took the second-half kickoff 67 yards in eight plays, capped by Skol’s second TD of the night, a 12-yard run up the middle. Eleftheriou rounded out the scoring with a 10-yard run with 5:25 left in the third quarter, forcing use of the running clock rule.
The Cary defense was equally impressive, limiting Burlington (3-6, 3-6) to 85 total yards, including 31 yards rushing through three quarters. John Gagliano and Matthew Ortega had quarterback sacks while Gyanni Kanellakis had a fumble recovery. C-G’s starters allowed only two rushes of more than five yards and recorded six tackles for loss in addition to the quarterback sacks. BC’s two scores came in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard run by Nathan Arians and a 1-yard sweep around right end by Luke Thompson.
“They have so many weapons.” Rockets coach Brian Melvin said. “They’re a great team, a great program. They’re the standard of football in our league. Yeah, we tried to take (Skol) out, but he’s a terrific player.”
When asked if the weekend would be hectic with the playoffs looming, Seaburg laughed and said it would be anything but stressful.
“To be honest, it’s really one of the best couple of days of the year,” he said. “We don’t know our opponent and we won’t for awhile. (Saturday) is really a relaxing day. We’ll get together and work out, but all we know is that there are 32 teams trying to win the state championship.
“And we’re one of them.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Luke Eleftheriou, Cary-Grove, sr., QB
The senior completed 4-of-7 passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns. He added 133 yards rushing and one TD, helping Cary-Grove pile up 430 total yards, including 329 on the ground.
Cary-Grove 14 14 14 0 – 42
Burlington Central 0 0 0 14 – 14
CG – Carlson 28 pass from Eleftheriou (Splitt kick), 10:03
CG – Abrams 15 pass from Eleftheriou (Splitt kick), 2:52
CG – Skol 4 run (Splitt kick), 8:26
CG – Carlson 48 pass from Eleftheriou (Splitt kick), 5:17
CG – Skol 12 run (Splitt kick), 7:12
CG – Eleftheriou 10 run (Splitt kick), 5:25
BC – Arians 7 run (Solomon kick), 10:30
BC – Thompson 1 run (Solomon kick), 2:40