Schaumburg has had plenty of big plays light up the scoreboard this season, but it has been the Saxons' toughness in the shadows that has been the team's foundation so far.
And the host Saxons needed every bit of that toughness on Friday against a resilient Prospect squad.
Schaumburg had its back to wall and was clinging to a 2-point lead with 1:37 remaining, but senior Juwaan Richard came up with a key interception at the Prospect 25-yard line to propel the Saxons to a hard fought 28-19 Mid-Suburban League crossover victory at Gary Scholz Stadium.
Richard returned his pick to the 3, and then senior Sadarriss Patterson scored his second touchdown of the night with 1:19 remaining giving the Saxons the 9-point victory.
"We certainly make the big plays," said Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling whose team is off to its best start since 2006, when it began 5-0. "But more than that, we battled. It was a dog fight and that is when you find out what you're made of."
Patterson rushed for 110 yards on 23 carries, and put the Saxons on his back in back in the fourth quarter on an 11-play drive that ate up over five minutes.
The Schaumburg defense allowed Prospect 417 total yards, including 219 yard in the second half, but didn't break often in only allowing 9 second-half points
And of course there were the big plays, including senior quarterback Nick Anzelmo (8-for-14, 120 yards) tossing a 42-yard TD to Cole Reyes as time expired in the first half to give the Saxons a 21-10 halftime lead.
"We have so many athletes on the field it hard to focus on one," said Reyes.
And then there was Richard's game-changing interception that sealed the victory.
"I knew we had to make the big play," said Richard who also scored the Saxons' second touchdown on a 53-yard halfback pass from Stacey Smith in the second quarter. "I saw an opportunity so I took it."
Prospect (2-2) and senior quarterback Devin O'Hara were limited to 147 yard rushing in last weeks loss to Barrington, but the Knights came back with fire on Friday.
O'Hara rushed for 185 yards on 32 carries. Senior Steven Isteefanos added 98 yards rushing, and junior Nikko Gountanis scored the Knights' first touchdown on a 31-yard pass from O'Hara. Gountanis then added an 18-yard scoring run on fourth down to narrow the score to 21-19 with 6:53 left.
"This week we came with energy and attitude that we needed," said O'Hara. "This was a big learning week, win or lose. Right now we're very confident."
Luis Leguer added field goals of 34 and 35 yards for the Knights.
But in the end it the Saxons were able to tough it out to gain a critical victory. They've already equaled last season's win total.
"We just wanted to strap our pads up and play ball," said Patterson. "We came out and did what we've been doing since Week 1: Play hard."