CARY – Cary-Grove's defense dominated the first half of Saturday's Class 6A second-round football game against undefeated Boylan, but the Trojans didn't have enough to pull off the upset.
Ninth-seeded C-G battled the whole way against the No. 1-seeded Titans, who rallied for a 17-10 victory, marking only the third time in the past 10 years the Trojans have not advanced to the third round of the playoffs. Boylan will host Prairie Ridge, a 21-20 winner over Marmion on Saturday, in the quarterfinals, likely at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Trojans (7-4) outgained the high-powered offense of Boylan 143-32 in the first half and looked the better team on both sides of the ball. Despite the stats pointing in the Trojans' favor, their lead was only 3-0 at the break before the Boylan offense perked up.
Boylan (11-0) scored on two of its first three possessions of the second half to take a 14-3 lead.
“We were certainly expecting to be here, and we were expecting to win today, we just came up a little short,” C-G coach Brad Seaburg said. “I’m still very proud of the effort and of the guys; it was just one of those times it didn’t work out.”
The key moment may have come late in the third quarter, when right after the Trojans scored their first touchdown to make it 14-10, they got the ball back via an interception by senior Emerson Kersten deep in Boylan territory. However, the Trojans returned the favor to Boylan on a tipped interception to start the fourth quarter.
The C-G offense did have a few more chances late in the game to either take the lead or tie but couldn’t string together enough positive plays.
“We didn’t really execute well,” running back Zach McQuade said. "We played tough, but they were the better team today. We can execute a lot more than what we showed.
McQuade had 29 yards rushing and three catches for 42 yards. He also scored the only touchdown for C-G on an 18-yard pass from Jason Gregoire in the third quarter. Tyler Pennington had 104 yards rushing on 22 carries for the Trojans, which included a 46-yard run that helped set up the first-half field goal.
After the game, junior defensive back Matt Sutherland took a knee alone on the field to collect his thoughts and to look forward to next season.
“I was thinking about how it just slipped away, and what I have to do for next year to get back the championship again,” Sutherland said. “To help these seniors fulfill their dream, through me, that they can’t anymore. I have them right here [points to heart], and I’m going to win it for them next year.”