Wauconda defense keys win over Vernon Hills
Sam Maloof (39) of Vernon Hills finds an opening during a game against Wauconda on Friday. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2012 8:40PM
WAUCONDA — A week after Wauconda scored 36 points in the fourth quarter of a game against Grant, it would’ve been understandable if fans expected an offensive shootout between the high-powered Bulldogs and Vernon Hills on Friday night.
But in the end, it was the stellar play of Wauconda’s defense that made the difference. The Bulldogs gritted out a 20-14 North Suburban Conference Prairie Division win despite netting just four total yards of offense in the first quarter, and 60 the entire first half.
The teams entered the locker room at halftime deadlocked at 7-7, but Wauconda broke that tie for good when quarterback Austin Swenson found receiver Austin Piekarski on a 6-yard touchdown pass with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter.
“I’ll take the win any way we can get it,” Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. “Our defense was outstanding tonight.”
Ahead 13-7 with just under nine minutes left in the game, Wauconda junior Luke Fugle leveled a punishing hit on VH quarterback Brett Peterson, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by teammate Nate Magiera. Magiera then raced 59 yards to the house for a touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a 20-7 edge.
The hit knocked Peterson out of the game. But Peterson’s backup, Jacob Hallendorff, engineered a scoring drive that culminated with him finding Gabe Cotton on a 20-yard slant pattern for a score, making it 20-14 with 2:30 to go.
It was too little too late, however. VH got the ball back one final time, but its comeback hopes were thwarted when Hallendorff was picked off with less than a minute remaining.
“We came up short and now we have to pick ourselves up and go face Grant next week,” VH coach Tony Monken said.
Wauconda (3-1 overall, 1-1 NSC Prairie) lost key running back David Starkey early in the second quarter to an ugly knee injury after a horse-collar tackle. VH (1-3, 0-2) remains winless in division play.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper on Thursday to read more about the Vernon Hills football team.