Bradley Bauer found himself in the right place for the second time this year, and gained a little personal redemption in the process.
Bauer picked off a deflected pass with just under a minute to play at the Palatine 16-yard line and helped the host Pirates hold off crosstown rival Fremd 24-17 Friday before a raucous crowd of 5,000 in a key Mid-Suburban West game.
"There was no way I was going to drop this one," said Bauer, who was in a similar situation at almost the exact spot in the field in the opening week of the season against Montini, but dropped the interception as the Pirates lost in overtime. "I had taken a step too far back on the play tonight. But I got lucky and jumped it, and it worked out well for me."
Ironically, it was the ability to convert on 3 of 4 Palatine turnovers that helped Fremd (3-3, 1-1) stay in the game.
The Vikings turned a pair of takeaways into a 10-0 lead with 10:16 left in the second quarter.
Andrew Stark booted a 22-yard field goal after an interception. Sam Beutler then scored on a 5-yard run following a fumble recovery by Nick Storm as the Vikings were in control early.
Palatine (5-1, 2-0) finally got its offense back on track by avoiding the turnover bug as the Pirates closed the half by scoring 17 unanswered points.
John Serio broke off a 37-yard run to help set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Olles to Alex Nawrot to make it 10-7. On the Pirates' next possession, Olles connected with Eric Theis on a quick slant pass that went for a 31-yard touchdown.
Thanks to another interception by Bauer just before the end of the half, Kevin Hilmer was able to nail a 40-yard field goal with 12.1 seconds left to put the Pirates up 17-14.
Palatine's defense then bottled up the Vikings in the second half. Led by Luke Rago, Tom McHugh, Josh Baldus and Jesse Bobbit, the Pirates held Fremd to just 14 yards of offense and no first downs until the final five minutes of the game.
"We knew they were going to run the ball, so we were getting ready for that," Rago said. "We knew we had to step up today and I think we did."
"We had to read their outside zone," Baldus said. "And I thought we did a good job of reading it."
Palatine was able to increase its lead with 3:55 left in the third quarter when Chaka Kelly took a screen pass from Olles and went 18 yards to make it 24-10.
Fremd's defense, sparked by Phil Hetzner, Matt Isola, Tom Glassgow, William Money Jr., Stephen Walsh, Jack Bossong and Stephen Helbing, went after the ball, forcing a Palatine fumble at midfield. From there, Beutler directed the Vikings down the field and Jeff McGlade scored on a 1-yard run to close to 24-17 with 3:39 to play.
Following a short punt that gave the Vikings the ball at their own 42, Fremd had a final opportunity. Beutler threw a 29-yard pass to Matt Konokpa to the Pirates' 22 with just over a minute to play. But after two incompletions in the end zone, Bauer came up with the interception to help seal the win.
"It was a real backyard brawl," Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly said. "You knew it was going to take four quarters to win this one."
"Our kids fought all night," Fremd coach Lou Sponsel said. "We didn't execute at all times and we made some mistakes, but our kids did what we asked them to."