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Justin Jackson and Glenbard North proved to be a bit too much for Fremd on Saturday night in the opening round of the Class 8A playoffs in Palatine.
Jackson rushed for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns and caught a pass for another touchdown as the Panthers held off the Vikings 31-24.
Glenbard North will host Stevenson next weekend in the second round of the postseason.
It was almost strictly a ground attack for both teams in the first half, with Glenbard North throwing the only 2 passes as it built a 17-3 advantage.
"That is how it used to be," said Jackson. "I am old school, and that was great."
"We did an effective job of running the ball," Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens said. "Justin did a great job of running it for us again."
Fremd took the lead on a 25-yard field goal by Andrew Stark.
Glenbard North (9-1) then took command, regaining the advantage on a 56-yard run by Jackson to make it 7-3 with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
It became 14-3 when Panthers quarterback Brian Murphy scrambled and found Bryan Leckner on a 24-yard touchdown pass. Hector Ortiz then nailed a 37-yard field goal as the Panthers appeared to be in complete control.
Fremd (5-5) opened the second half with an impressive 13-play, 78 yard drive that featured that Vikings' first pass of the game. Matt Isola connected with William Money on a 29-yard pass to the Glenbard North 1. But after the Panthers defense turned away the Vikings on three attempts, Jeff McGlade (22 carries, 125 yards) scored on a 2-yard run to make it 17-10 with 6:10 left in the third quarter.
Jackson and the Panthers had another prompt answer, as Jackson scored on an 8-yard burst to make it 24-10 with 2:58 left in the third quarter.
Jackson then took a screen pass and went 61 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter as the Panthers took a 31-10 advantage.
"Our downfield blocking was great," Jackson said. "We executed it well. That is what happens when we make big plays."
But this is a Fremd team that plays even harder when its back is against the wall.
Fremd rallied behind the arm of backup quarterback Trever Cutler, who came off the bench to breathe new life into the Vikings.
On fourth-and-8 from the Panthers 41, Cutler connected with Matt Konopka on a 40-yard pass to the Glenbard North 1. Cutler scored on a sneak as the Vikings closed to 31-17 with 5:17 to play.
On Fremd's next possession, Cutler drove the Vikings 64 yards on 8 plays. He hooked up with Stark on a 26-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-24 with 2:43 left.
But Jackson bailed out the Panthers. After a failed onside kick by the Vikings, Jackson rushed for 13 yards on a third-and-12 play from the Panthers' 44 to seal the victory.
"We talked to our kids the last three weeks — with their backs against the wall, you are going to fight and swing like crazy," Fremd coach Lou Sponsel said. "I am proud of the way they responded."