Mahoney, Cary-Grove ground out win

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Saturday’s 6A semifinal playoff game was a matchup between Cary-Grove and Lake Forest, pitted the option attack of the Trojans against the pro-style passing game of the Scouts.

In the end, the Trojans physical ground game won out, defeating the Scouts 42-21 in front of a frenzied crowd of over 8,000 at Varsity Field in Lake Forest.

“It feels great. We are one of three teams in Cary history to do this,” senior fullback Kyle Norberg said. “I’m stunned right now, at a loss for words. We’re all so happy right now.”

It was senior running back Ryan Mahoney (10 carries, 182 yards) who sparked the Trojans in the first half. After the Scouts scored on their first possession to make it 7-0, Cary-Grove responded on just its second play from scrimmage. Mahoney took a pitch from Quinn Baker (19 carries, 109 yards) and scampered 63 yards to tie the game at 7. Mahoney struck again on the Trojans’ next possession, gashing the right side again for a 28-yard touchdown with 3:48 left in the first quarter.

Mahoney finished the first half with 166 yards on eight carries and the Trojans led 21-14. But in the second half, it became the Norberg show. Cary-Grove’s leading rusher put the game out of reach with 3:44 left in the third quarter. With the Trojans leading 28-14, Norberg (15 carries, 143 yards) broke through the Scouts line and rumbled 56 yards for a touchdown, making it a three-score game, 35-14.

“In the first half we had a lot of success on the perimeter and in the second half we looked at Norberg and it fell into our game plan,” coach Brad Seaburg said. “There’s not a more deserving group to go down to Champaign than our senior class.”

Cary-Grove makes it to the state title game for the first time since 2009, when they won the championship.

Lake Forest got three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Andrew Clifford (17-of-31, 222 yards) in its second semifinal game in school history.

“Our guys fought hard, they always do. That’s all we can ask. You have to bow your head to them. Our guys did all they could,” Lake Forest coach Chuck Spagnoli said.

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