ELGIN — The Granger Lions had designs on advancing beyond the third round of the playoffs and, through the first quarter Friday night, it looked like that might happen.

A heavy dose of Burton speedster Pierson Spies and the Lions’ mistakes cost them dearly, though.

Instead, Burton pulled away to a 57-27 victory over Granger in a Class 2A Division II Region IV semifinal at Wildcat Stadium.

The Lions’ season ended with an 11-1 record. The Panthers, who have a 5-8 record after having to forfeit seven regular-season games, advanced to the state quarterfinals.

“It just wasn’t our night,” second-year Granger head coach Stephen Brosch said. “We did some things right and had flashes at times of Granger football. But you can’t turn over the ball like we did and give up 50-plus points and expect to win.”

Spies rang up 245 yards rushing to go with five touchdowns to be too much for the Lions to overcome. Spies scored on runs of 4, 8, 47, 30 and 51 yards to pace the ground-oriented Panthers.

It didn’t look like that at the outset. Granger came out of the gate with a 14-point first quarter to take an early lead.

The Lions took advantage of a short punt and a short field for a 38-yard scoring drive. Johnny Ryder threw to Nate Tucker for a 19-yard scoring strike over the middle on a fourth-down attempt as Granger went up 7-0 at the 4:50 mark of the opening quarter.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Lions wasted little time getting another score. Ryder found Lucas Mata on a 56-yard touchdown pass to give the Lions a 14-0 lead by the end of the opening frame.

Burton reversed its fortunes in the second quarter by calmly posting 19 consecutive points.

The Panthers traveled 70 yards in seven plays, highlighted by a 36-yard misdirection run by Chad Schubert to the Granger 20-yard line. Five plays later, Spies slid in from the 4. The kick went wide to leave it at 14-6.

The Burton defense rose to halt the Lions on Granger’s next possession. It took the Panthers seven plays to go 68 yards, finished by a 29-yard pass from Ryan Roehling to Tanner Gore. The 2-point conversion failed, and the Lions still led 14-12 with 5:55 left in the first half.

Gore took a punt back 46 yards to the Granger 32 to set up another touchdown for himself. He gathered in a short pass from Roehling and ran the 32 yards for another touchdown, and the Panthers took a 19-14 lead into halftime.

The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter. Granger regained the lead on its first second-half possession, a 63-yard, 11-play march that ended with Donnie Cantwell going in from the 4. The 2-point try was unsuccessful, and the Lions led 20-19.

A Granger fumble at its 1 led to the Panthers regaining the lead for good. Roehling snuck in from there, and it was a 25-20 game going into the fourth quarter.

The Panthers broke loose for a 32-point fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. The Lions, however, added a touchdown late in the game when Ryder connected with Donnie Cantwell on a 64-yard scoring throw.

It wasn’t nearly enough, though.

“We had a hard time with them up front,” Brosch said. “But a lot of it was self-inflicted. I’m proud of our guys, though.”


Burton 0 19 6 32 — 57

Granger 14 0 6 7 — 27

Gra — Nate Tucker 19 pass from Johnny Ryder (Jose Valverde kick)

Gra — Lucas Mata 56 pass from Ryder (Valverde kick)

Bur — Pierson Spies 4 run (kick failed)

Bur — Tanner Gore 29 pass from Ryan Roehling (pass failed)

Bur — Gore 32 pass from Roehling (D’Mitry Schulte kick)

Gra — Donnie Cantwell 4 run (pass failed)

Bur — Roehling 1 run (run failed)

Bur — Spies 8 run (pass failed)

Bur — Carson Lauter 17 fumble return (Schulte kick)

Bur — Spies 47 run (Schulte kick)

Gra — Cantwell 56 pass from Ryder (Valverde kick)

Bur — Spies 30 run (kick failed)

Bur — Spies 51 run (kick failed)


Bur Gra

First downs 16 15

Rushes-yards 37-313 20-(-2)

Passing yards 100 273

Comp.-Att.-Int. 5-8-0 17-43-0

Punts-average 4-22.1 5-32.2

Fumbles-lost 2-1 4-4

Penalties-yards 2-20 9-67


RUSHING — Burton: Spies 26-245, Chad Schubert 5-46, Logan Kopanski 2-18, Tyrone Gilman 3-10, Roehling 2-(-6); Granger: Cantwell 10-32, Truvante Fisher 3-5, Ryder 13-(-18).

PASSING — Burton: Roehling 5-8-0-100; Granger: Ryder 17-43-0-237.

RECEIVING — Burton: Gore 2-61, Lauter 3-25, Spies 0-4; Granger: Cantwell 3-80, Mata 3-67, Thomas Youngblood 3-41, DJ McClelland 3-26, Tucker 1-19, Evan Hutka 1-11, Isaac Lizardo 1-11, Fisher 1-11.