Friday wasn't a must-win game for the Crystal Lake South football team.
The Gators certainly played like it was though.
CL South trailed 15-7 midway through the second quarter before scoring 29 unanswered points to beat visiting Dundee-Crown, 36-22, to get within one win of being playoff eligible.
"Coaches were saying it was a playoff game," said South senior Zevin Clark, who rushed for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns. "We had to come out hard and I think that's what we did."
Both teams entered Friday with a 3-3 record. The loser wasn't going to be eliminated from postseason contention but it would have to win the final two regular-season games. The Gators (4-3, 3-2 FVC Valley) won their third consecutive game and now need to win on the road against Jacobs (4-3) or Grayslake Central (2-5) to claim a fifth victory. Five wins likely would be enough for CL South to earn a 12th consecutive trip to the playoffs.
The Chargers (3-4, 1-3) must beat undefeated Cary-Grove (5-0), which plays Huntley today, and Jacobs to become postseason eligible.
"When you're 3-3 every win is a big win," Gators coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "You're fighting for your playoff life every week."
Clark scored the first of his 2 touchdowns on a 47-yard run with 3:04 remaining in the first quarter as the Gators took a 7-0 lead. Two plays later, D-C's Cody Lane answered with a 60-yard touchdown run. Lane caught a pass from Ben Sprouse for the 2-point conversion and an 8-7 lead.
On the Chargers' next possession, Lane broke a 63-yard touchdown run as D-C took a 15-7 lead.
CL South scored on its next four possessions to take control. Clark scored on an 8-yard run and the ensuing 2-point conversion tied the game at 15-15. Austin Rogers avoided the rush, scrambled around and found Josh Smith for a 33-yard score with 1:18 left in the first half for a 22-15 lead.
"Those kinds of plays are backbreakers for a defense," Ahsmann said. "That was a momentum changer."
Chris Ivers and Rogers, who was 9-of-13 passing for 123 yards, added rushing touchdowns in the second half as the Gators took a 36-15 lead.
Garrett Ryan hit Trent Muscat for a 1-yard touchdown with 1:20 remaining for the Chargers.
"Our program, we're just not there yet," D-C coach Vito Andriola said. "It's so hard to sustain the effort and the mental part of it."
Lane finished with 176 yards on 14 carries.