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Schaumburg is loaded with playmakers all over the field, but on Saturday afternoon at Barrington Community Stadium, they played a brand of football in the second half that they feel will help them win in the playoffs.
The Saxons only scored once in the second half but they scrapped their way to a 20-14 Mid-Suburban West victory over Barrington.
"I love the way that we grinded in the second half," said Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling. "Our offensive line stayed after it. Every play isn't going to be perfect but we found a way to keep at it."
Tied at 14-14 at halftime, Schaumburg (5-1, 1-1) inserted the dynamic Stacey Smith at quarterback for Nick Anzelmo.
With Smith and running back Sadarriss Patterson running the football, the Saxons used their athleticism to their advantage against a bigger Broncos squad.
After an Ed Kelly interception, Patterson started an 11-play, 74-yard drive with a 12-yard run and Smith followed with runs of 8, 9 and 14, sandwiched around completions to Akema Collins and Juwaan Richard.
Patterson eventually finished the drive with a 2-yard dive into the end zone to give Schaumburg a 20-14 lead with 2:23 left in the third quarter.
"That's a big advantage for us because we can work with either one of us and teams won't know what to expect," Patterson said of having Smith with him in the backfield.
The duo also hooked up for a second quarter touchdown when Smith optioned the ball to Patterson, who did the rest with a 50-yard sprint to the end zone and a 14-6 lead.
"We've been working on that all week, keying on (Barrington linebacker Colin Castagna)," Smith said. "He steps down fast and I'm supposed to pitch it as soon as he comes off. So I gave it to (Patterson) and let him do what he does."
Lead in hand, the Saxon defense settled in as safety Cole Reyes, linebacker Conner Lapinsky and linemen Lee Duhs and Matt Zolper made key stops.
The biggest play in the fourth quarter was made by Smith after the Barrington (2-4, 0-2) defense forced a three-and-out. Punting from his own 25, Anzelmo launched a kick into Bronco territory that Smith somehow tracked down before it rolled into the end zone, saving it for Reyes to down at the 2-yard line.
"It sets us up defensively for the rest of the quarter," Stilling said of Smith's play. "All of the things with the ball in his hands, everyone in the stands knows that he's going to do that. But what a huge hustle play there."
This one had the makings of a shootout early with both teams scoring on their opening possessions. Anzelmo threw a perfect deep ball to Richard for a 44-yard score, and Barrington's Daniel Kubiuk answered with a 27-yard touchdown toss to sophomore Matt Moran (3 catches, 72 yards).
A last-gasp effort for Barrington ended when Kyle Wagner picked off Kubiuk with 35 seconds left on the 49-yard line.
"I'm extremely proud of our kids and coaching staff for the way that we rebounded from last week," said Barrington coach Joe Sanchez. "We came out here and gave ourselves a chance to win."