One hour before the 4 p.m. scheduled kickoff, the bleachers at Varsity Field at Lake Forest High School were filled with football fans, ravenous for the start of the 6A semifinal playoff game between the Lake Forest Scouts and Cary-Grove Trojans.
The Scouts scored on their first offensive possession, a 32-yard touchdown from senior quarterback Andrew Clifford to junior Geno Quaid.
The home crowd was energized, screaming for Lake Forest to pour it on against favored Cary-Grove.
But the Trojans were undefeated and a top seed in 6A for a reason.
They are a good football team - a very good football team - outscoring the Scouts 42-14 the rest of the game and ending Lake Forest's charmed postseason run, the final 42-21.
"We knew we had to take advantage of drives. We did the best we could, we could have executed better," said Clifford, who threw for three touchdowns and was 17-of-31 passing for 222 yards. "We just came up a little bit short, they made a few more plays."
After Cary-Grove responded with back-to-back touchdowns to make it 14-7, Lake Forest tied the game at 14 on the final play of the first quarter when Clifford hit senior wide receiver David Glynn for a 5-yard touchdown.
Cary-Grove scored two more times in the second quarter and went into the half leading 28-14. At the point in the game, the Trojans' Kyle Norberg and Ryan Mahoney had two touchdowns each.
Going into the second half, Lake Forest needed a defensive stop and got it on the Trojans first drive of the third quarter.
But the Scouts gave the ball back to Cary-Grove after a fake punt attempt and two plays later, Norberg ran 56 yards for a Trojans touchdown to make it 35-14 with 3:44 left in the third quarter, effectively putting the game out of reach.
The Scouts scored its final touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Clifford to Glynn, making it 35-21 late in the third quarter.
More than 8,000 fans crammed into Varsity Field to watch the game, the most in school history. Lake Forest was vying for its first football state championship appearance in history.
"Our guys always play hard, we just weren't particularly good about making plays on defense to stop them," coach Chuck Spagnoli said. "It was a good ball game. We just didn't stop them."
Added senior David Glynn: "We played hard. We definitely left some plays out there. We wanted to make it to state. We got far. It was a good season."
Perhaps Cary-Grove had the edge, having won a state title just three years ago.
The Trojans will play at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, against Crete-Monee at the University of Illinois stadium in Champaign, Ill.
Congratulations Cary-Grove...Go Trojans!