Being especially effective on special teams really can make a big difference.
Anthony Cloe set the standard with a 78-yard kickoff return midway through the first quarter. Antioch's football team never let up after that, scoring 22 unanswered points.
That spurt was enough to get the Sequoits past host Vernon Hills 22-10 Friday night in a North Suburban Conference Prairie Division opener.
Vernon Hills (1-2, 0-1) had taken a 3-0 lead courtesy of Jeremy Cohen's 29-yard field goal with 7:29 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Cloe's big return brought the ball to the Vernon Hills 17.
"Before the ball is kicked, you're pretty nervous," said Cloe, a junior who returned 1 kickoff for a touchdown as a sophomore. "You've got a lot of pressure, and you don't want to drop it or get tagged for a loss. Once I catch it, all that goes away.
"I was just following all the blockers. I like to follow Cody Gwinn -- he made some good blocks. I really wanted to get into the end zone, but the turf was a little wet and I think I slipped at the end there. It was all good blocking."
Cloe also recovered a fumble and had an interception later in the game.
Antioch (2-1, 1-0) made it to the end zone 5 plays later as Austin Klotter (22 carries, 73 yards) scored on a 4-yard run for a 7-3 lead with 5:45 left in the opening quarter.
The Sequoits took advantage of a 6-yard Cougars punt late in the second quarter and increased the lead as quarterback Alan Taylor (17 carries, 65 yards) broke loose for a 48-yard touchdown run. Antioch added a 2-point conversion off a botched snap as Taylor connected on a pass to Tyler Lazarz for a 15-3 lead with 1:06 left.
"It was my running back, (Andrew) Pelote, that got me the big block," said Taylor, a sophomore. "I just ran for my life out there."
Antioch's Lazarz caught a 5-yard TD pass from Taylor with 8:06 left in the third for a 22-3 lead.
"It was a playoff game when you look at the schedule," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said.. "Between Vernon Hills and us, we knew whoever loses this game ... it's not over, but then you're behind the eight-ball. We knew it would be a playoff atmosphere, and winning here is always tough. "
Vernon Hills added a late score as backup quarterback Jacob Hallendorf scored on a 1-yard run in the final quarter.
The Cougars were lacking the strengths they showed in their previous game at Wheaton St. Francis.
"We just didn't match the intensity," Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken said. "We didn't bring it out there. It wasn't the same level like last week. Antioch brought it to us and deserved to win.
"We'll try to work on it all together in practice for next week against Wauconda."