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ETHS football: Turnovers pile up on Kits in 42-17 defeat

Two short touchdown drives set up by Evanston turnovers in the first quarter shoved the Wildkits into a hole they couldn’t climb out of Friday night at Libertyville.

And things didn’t get much better for the kits after that, either. They turned the ball over a whopping six times and suffered a 42-17 blowout loss, evening their season record at 1-1.

It marked the second straight week that Evanston fell behind early and had to play catch-up football. Four fumbles and a pair of interceptions thrown by quarterback Dylan Groff prevented the offense from gaining much traction as ETHS was attempting to open the season at 2-0 for the first time since 2018.

Now the Wildkits will have to regroup for an even tougher road test next Friday, Sept. 9 at Prospect.

Libertyville, which was less than impressive while losing its season opener to Lemont, got an early psychological boost when Evanston’s mistakes set up a short field for the Knights offense. Libertyville’s first two scoring drives covered 20 and 27 yards, and the hosts later marched 62 yards in eight plays to build a 21-3 halftime advantage.

Evanston’s only scores came on a 40-yard field goal by Evan Siegel, a 7-yard run by Groff, and Groff’s 12-yard TD pass to junior tight end Adrian Martinez-Jones.

“We have a lot of things we need to shore up after tonight,” said Evanston head coach Mike Burzawa. “We came out and gave them a short field, and they were able to convert on us. We were in a lot of bad situations because of field position.

“Give Libertyville credit, because we weren’t able to get our run game going and that’s where it starts for us. It’s always a challenge to try to win on the road, but we need more of a sense of urgency right at the start. We didn’t execute the fundamentals – especially ball security – and we didn’t execute our game plan.”

The winners only outgained ETHS by 2 yards – 302 to 300 – but prevailed as Charlie True scored on three short runs despite only gaining 54 total yards rushing on 23 attempts. Quarterback Quinn Schambov added a pair of TD passes and backup QB Rocco LaVista raced 87 yards for the final score to complete the rout with 2 minutes, 22 seconds left in the game.

An interception by Luke Williamson set up Libertyville’s first score and True hit paydirt on a 2-yard run. Evanston’s Preston Brown fumbled on the kickoff runback, and it took just four plays for the hosts to pad their lead as Schambov found Kristian Gravic for a 15-yard TD pass.

Siegel’s field goal with 11 seconds left before the halftime intermission gave ETHS fans some hope. But Libertyville marched to scores on two of its next three possessions to build an overwhelming 35-3 lead late in the third quarter.

Groff, who accounted for six TDs in a season-opening win over Indian Trail of Wisconsin, completed 22 of 34 passes for 211 yards against Libertyville. He carried 20 times for 75 yards but the visitors only mustered a total of 99 yards on the ground.

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