Cary-Grove's Michael Sullivan, left, celebrates his fumble recovery with Mitchel Dec during Saturday's Class 6A first-round game against St. Ignatius in Cary.
Cary-Grove's Michael Sullivan, left, celebrates his fumble recovery with Mitchel Dec during Saturday's Class 6A first-round game against St. Ignatius in Cary. — Tony Gadomski - AllSportImaging.com

CARY – After failing to convert on fourth down on its opening possession, Cary-Grove uncharacteristically committed back-to-back penalties on its second possession, setting the Trojans back 10 yards.

Those were the only two penalties for C-G, which avoided any more sloppy play on the line.

Quarterback Luke Eleftheriou scored his first of three touchdowns on the drive, and the defending state champions ran away from No. 13-seeded St. Ignatius, 41-13, in the teams' Class 6A first-round playoff game Saturday.

The No. 4-seeded Trojans (8-2), who will host No. 5-seeded Antioch (8-2) in a second-round game, have won 16 straight postseason openers. C-G has advanced to the quarterfinals 11 times in the past 15 seasons.

"It's always a great time to get that first [postseason] win," senior offensive lineman Ryan Beeksma said. "It's all about momentum. What got us going was everyone up front. We were blasting guys. We were driving them back. That just gets us going in the huddle, and it keeps going."

Eleftheriou ran for a game-high 120 yards on 14 carries, scoring on runs of 22, 32 and 12 yards. His third score gave the Trojans a 21-0 lead with 4:56 left in the second quarter.

Blake Skol added a 34-yard touchdown run with 1:14 left in the half to give C-G a 28-0 lead. On defense, Gyanni Kanellakis had an interception to set up the Trojans' first score. Skol picked off St. Ignatius quarterback Leo Rugai to set up their second score.

Michael Sullivan added a fumble recovery for C-G, forced out by Mitchel Dec on a strip sack. St. Ignatius (5-5) had only 29 yards at halftime.

"We did a good job of stopping their fullbacks," said Skol, who plays linebacker. "They had to get down to their pitch phase and we shut that down. They really couldn't get anything going. We were really physical and flew to the ball. It was great execution."

Running back Wade Abrams (48 yards) had a 5-yard touchdown run, and Skol (64 yards) added his second score from 10 yards to give the Trojans a 41-0 lead with 7:19 remaining in the third quarter.

Trojans coach Brad Seaburg was happy to see his team make adjustments after their first couple of mistakes.

"A lot of times, teams scheme and prepare differently for us, and it just took our kids a second to figure some things out," Seaburg said. "After that, they were good. We kind of wore them out during the game, and we were really able to finish drives. I think that was key. Even the second drive, we got to a third-and-long, and we were able to convert and finish."

Rugai had a team-high 55 yards on the ground and a 1-yard score to begin the fourth. Richard Ponce (23 yards rushing) threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Marty Boyle as time expired to end the game.

Winning in the postseason is a tradition for the Trojans, one Skol is more than happy to continue.

"Growing up, since I was about four years old, every team has won and growing up, the expectations are high," Skol said. "Right now, it just feels amazing to uphold what everyone has done and keep the tradition alive."

STAR OF THE GAME

Luke Eleftheriou, Cary-Grove, QB, sr.

Eleftheriou had the Trojans' first three touchdowns on runs of 22, 32 and 12 yards. He finished with a game-high 120 yards on 14 carries.

Cary-Grove 41, St. Ignatius 13

St. Ignatis 0 0 0 13 – 13

Cary-Grove 14 14 13 0 – 41

First quarter

CG–Eleftheriou 22 run (Splitt kick), 2:50

CG–Eleftheriou 32 run (Splitt kick), 0:10

Second quarter

CG–Eleftheriou 12 run (Splitt kick), 4:56

CG–Skol 34 run (Splitt kick), 1:14

Third quarter

CG–Abrams 5 run (kick blocked), 9:55

CG–Skol 10 run (Splitt kick), 7:19

Fourth quarter

SI–L. Rugai 1 run (Besztery kick), 11:56

SI–Boyle 1 pass from Ponce, 0:00

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING–St. Ignatius: Rugai 13-55, Callahan 5-9, Talarico 4-19, Lo 3-1, Roberson 3-14, Ponce 5-23, Sierra 2-5, Jagielski 1-4, Domenico 1-4. V. Rugai 1-3, Team 4-minus 6. Total: 42-131. Cary-Grove: Eleftheriou 14-120, Skol 7-64, Abrams 7-48, Mistak 2-36, Magel 2-1, Team 3-minus 10. Total: 35-259.

PASSING–St. Ignatius: L. Rugai 0-3-2-0, Ponce 1-1-0-1. Cary-Grove: Eleftheriou 1-3-0-23, Sheehan 1-1-0-4.

RECEIVING–St. Ignatius: Boyle 1-1. Cary-Grove Mistak 1-23, LaBrec 1-4.

TOTAL YARDS: St. Ignatius 132, Cary-Grove 286.