Both St. Charles North and Streamwood came into their Upstate Eight Conference River Division matchup with 2-3 overall records keeping both teams very much alive for a playoff berth.
Backed behind a big second half sparked by their special teams, the North Stars (3-3, 3-1) prevailed 31-14 on Friday night at Millennium Field leaving the Sabres (2-4, 1-2) in must win mode the rest of the season.
Deadlocked in a 14-14 tie at halftime, the North Stars' defense forced a punt on the first possession of the second half which Nicholas McCullough returned 72 yards for the score and giving North the lead for good.
"I had some great blocks from my team," McCullough said. "That really sealed the deal for us because we had all the momentum from there."
McCullough then intercepted Streamwood quarterback Mason Polich (11-for-25, 208 yards) on the next Sabres' possession, which the North Stars converted into 3 points on a 23-yard field goal by Kat Stutesman for the 24-14 lead with 5:13 remaining in the third quarter.
George Edlund (25 carries, 112 yards) capped the game's scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run 5 minutes into the fourth quarter.
"We've been telling the kids all week long that Streamwood's a tough team," said North Stars' coach Mark Gould. "At halftime, I told them that I firmly believed that Streamwood gave us their best in the first half, but we didn't give them our best. We did in the second half."
Edlund had a 12-yard TD run in the first quarter while the North Stars' defense limited Streamwood.
However, Polich had a pair of TD passes in the second quarter, the first coming on a third-and-22 play. Polich threw a screen pass to Blake Holder who found some room and ran 79 yards for the score.
"No question that play fired us up," said Streamwood coach Cal Cummins. "That's what we're always hoping for from Blake. Unfortunately, we didn't keep that going in the second half."
Polich hit Deji Giwa for an 8-yard TD pass for a 14-7 lead, but St. Charles North tied the game with 1:08 left in the first half as North Stars' QB Ryan Fischbach (7-for-12, 61 yards) found Garrett Johnson in the end zone on a 12-yard pass.