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The Jacobs defense played its best game of the season Friday with a playoff berth at stake.
A unit that through eight games had allowed averages of 30.6 points and 389 yards per game limited the dangerous Dundee-Crown offense to 232 yards and kept the Chargers out of the end zone in a 21-3 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division victory in Carpentersville.
The victory makes Jacobs (5-4) playoff eligible. The Golden Eagles entered the game with 37 playoff points (combined number of wins by opponents) and gained 5 more Friday. Last year's cutoff for 5-4 teams was 40 points.
"Our kids got the fifth win, so we get to live another day here," said third-year Jacobs coach Bill Mitz, who led teams at Stevenson and Jacobs to the playoffs the previous 23 seasons. "It's nice to have a winning record and it's nice for our community. Our school will be going to the playoffs, hopefully, for the third year in a row."
If the Golden Eagles make the playoff cut as expected when pairings are released Saturday night at 8 p.m., it will mark the first time the program has reached the postseason in three consecutive seasons.
"It feels great," said senior running back Greg Sidor, who rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown. "Three years in a row, the first Jacobs team to ever do that. I'm glad to be a part of it. I can't wait."
Jacobs jumped to the early lead on its second possession when quarterback Brett Mooney connected with junior Hunter Williams 20 yards down the rain-soaked field. Williams made a nice catch beyond the cornerback's coverage, sidestepped the oncoming safety and raced untouched for an 85-yard touchdown. The duo hooked up 4 times in all for 131 of Jacobs' 141 passing yards.
Dundee-Crown (3-6) responded with a mammoth drive. The Chargers drove 88 yards in 18 plays and ate more than nine minutes of clock. But after gaining first-and-goal at the Jacobs 6-yard line, D-C traversed just 3 more yards on 2 carries by Cody Lane and 2 carries by TJ Moss.
The Chargers regained possession with 43.2 seconds left in the first half and threatened again. JT Beasley (14 carries, 150 yards) broke runs of 39 and 11 yards to again set up first-and-goal at the 6-yard line.
However, the Jacobs defense deflected one Mooney pass and junior linebacker Greg McLeod broke up another to force D-C to settle for a 22-yard RJ Schmidt field goal with .2 seconds left in the half, trimming Jacobs' lead to 7-3.
"We wanted these playoffs," McLeod said. "Our coach told us we can't be the team that stops that momentum of making the playoffs. We had that drive."
The Chargers were short a key weapon in the second half. Lane, who entered the game with 1,208 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, twisted an ankle in the first quarter. He was held to 39 yards on 11 carries in two quarters and did not return after halftime.
Jacobs took no mercy. After forcing a D-C punt, the Golden Eagles drove 88 yards in 14 plays. Eight of those plays were rushes by Sidor, who capped the drive with a 2-yard scoring run to extend the lead to 14-3 with 2:33 left in the third quarter.
Jacobs gained a 21-3 cushion on its next possession. Facing fourth-and-goal from the 9, Mooney hit Williams over the middle for a touchdown with 9:22 left, all but sending Dundee-Crown to its fifth straight lost after a 3-1 start to the season.
"I've got to coach them better. We're just not there yet," D-C coach Vito Andriola said of a team that won 3 games after 0-9 finishes in 2010 and 2011. "You can see we're closing and closing, but we're just not there yet. We had a couple of chances to put the ball in from the 5-yard line and we didn't. We had a chance to make stops and we didn't. It's just really hard to get us going, and now it's tougher because we've lost five in a row."