Drew Norton’s clutch interception gives Prairie Ridge 6A crown

SHARE Drew Norton’s clutch interception gives Prairie Ridge 6A crown
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Prairie Ridge’s Jackson Willis (4) dives into the end zone against Nazareth in Class 6A action at Huskie Stadium, November 25, 2017. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

DEKALB—Prairie Ridge’s amazing two-year undefeated run came down to one final drive in the Class 6A state title game on Saturday. The Wolves’ defense needed a stop, and senior Drew Norton delivered.

“A minute to win state, we have to make a play,” Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp said. “And Drew stepped up and made the best play of his life.”

The Wolves led by seven, but Nazareth’s dynamic offense was rolling down the field in the final minute. The Roadrunners made it all the way to the Prairie Ridge 13. But Norton intercepted Bobby Grimes’ pass in the end zone to seal a 28-21 victory.

“They kept hitting us with really similar routes,” Norton said. “I just got into my drop and read the quarterback’s eyes and luckily I was in the position to make a big play like that. Just everything flashed before my eyes, this whole season. I’m really blessed to make such a big play.”

The Wolves (14-0) took the lead for good with 1:01 left to play. A nine-play, 65-yard drive was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run from Sun-Times Player of the Year Samson Evans. The Prairie Ridge quarterback rushed 35 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

“We knew we had some unbelievable athletes on Nazareth we had to stop,” Schremp said. “They played a phenomenal game. Our eleven guys just playing their hearts out. It was an unbelievably exciting, tough football game.”

Zach Gulbransen (10 carries, 62 yards) and Jackson Willis (10 carries, 45 yards, one touchdown) were the other ground threats for the Wolves. They only attempted one pass in the game.

Prairie Ridge led 14-7 at the half. Nazareth (12-2) tied the game on a seven-yard run by Grimes with 5:03 to play.

Grimes was 22 for 32 for 296 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Junior Devin Blakely had nine carries for 64 yards.

Prairie Ridge dominated Sacred Heart-Griffin in the Class 6A title game last year and entered the season as the preseason top-ranked team. NBC Sports Chicago’s The Drive series followed the team, which has a state-best 28-game winning streak.

“There has definitely been a lot of pressure on us, but the seniors embraced the pressure,” Evans said. “It never really got to our heads or anything.”

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