Palatine rebounds vs. Schaumburg
This season hasn't been as dominant as many predicted for Palatine. It ran into some strong teams on its schedule that got the best of them.
But all is well that ends well as the Pirates picked up the necessary sixth win, 42-22 over Schaumburg on Friday, to clinch a playoff spot. They, along with every other playoff-bound team, will learn their first-round pairing is Saturday night.
"It feels great," said Pirates coach Corey Olson. "It's what you're always aiming to do. You want to extend your season. You just want to have a shot in there. We have that, so we're excited about it. The seniors worked their butts off and led us to this point. We go as they go, so here we are moving onto the playoffs, and (we) have some momentum here, so it's a good thing."
Palatine (6-3, 4-1) saw Schaumburg (2-7, 0-5) recover the opening kickoff at the Pirates' 35-yard line, but the Saxons only moved backward on the game's first possession. The Pirates frequently called Tulane-bound Dominik Ball when they took over on downs, and he rewarded that faith with a 25-yard touchdown run.
Before the first quarter ended, Ball scored twice more on runs of 5 and 25 yards. The second of those runs gave him 4,055 career yards on the ground, enough to break the Palatine rushing record in his final regular-season game.
"It's very easy for me to trust my receivers' blocking, trust my O-line," said Ball. "So, I can hit the holes, and I can also bet on my receivers holding off the corners and getting to the linebackers for me to make the cuts and make it look (easy)."
After Ball scored another 5-yard touchdown, giving him 134 yards on 15 carries, the Pirates allowed others to get reps at running back. Maleek Miles found the end zone from 8 yards out late in the second quarter, assuring a running clock for the entire second half.
Quarterback Lucas Wagener led the Schaumburg offense. He completed 15 of 29 passes for 132 yards and ran for a 46-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Wagener also threw three interceptions, the first of which Ethan Hunt took 26 yards the other way for a score. Another was picked off by Rufus Clark in the end zone on the last play before halftime, and AJ Porter intercepted him on the game's final play.
The Saxons got on the board when senior Marcus Stewart scored twice on the ground in the second half. After his first touchdown, he converted the two-point conversion attempt.