The postseason didn't exactly get off to the start Palatine wanted Saturday afternoon.
The third-seeded Pirates had two early turnovers and were tied 7-7 with No. 14 Niles West after a quarter.
But Palatine scored 4 unanswered touchdowns in a span of 4:58 in the second quarter to break the game wide open and went on to win 69-42 in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs at Chic Anderson Stadium.
Palatine (9-1) scored on its first possession with Ethan Olles (22-for-34, 299 yards) hitting Ryan Gronwick (127 total yards, 2 TD) from 23 yards out, but the Pirates came up empty on their next three possessions. Jake Glotzer returned a fumble 55 yards for a touchdown and then picked off Olles.
"We had to come together and calm down," Olles said. "We weren't playing how we usually do. We needed to quit the mistakes and execute like we always do.
The second-quarter flurry began with Olles finding the end zone on runs of 1 and 12 yards. It continued with a 60-yard pass from Olles to Cam Kuksa (98 total yards) over the middle and finally finished off with a 6-yard run by Kuksa.
"We came out soft and not ready to play," Kuksa said. "It just wasn't good. But we stepped it up in the second quarter."
The Pirates went into the break with a comfortable lead but the Wolves were hanging around thanks to Tommy Williams (78 receiving yards, 2 TD).
"Going into halftime, we were pretty confident but coming out, we still needed to put the game away," Olles said.
And they wasted little time in doing so as Lucas Rago's interception led to Kuksa's third touchdown of the night, from 2 yards out. Olles' third touchdown pass of the afternoon, to Alex Nawrot, made it 49-14 with 6:49 left in the third quarter.
Though the scoreboard may not show it, a hard-hitting Palatine defense played well with most of the Wolves' points and yards coming after the Pirates pulled its starters.
"Our defense played outstanding until we pulled all of the starters," said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly. "We are pleased to get everyone to the second round with no concussion issues like last year."
Chaka Kelly (12 carries, 81 yards) and Christopher Stein (4 carries, 30 yards) also rushed for scores.
The victory sets up a second round rematch against No. 6 Schaumburg. Palatine beat the Saxons 51-18 in Week 9 to claim the Mid-Suburban West title outright.
"It will be a big test for us because they're a good team," Kuksa said. "It'll show who we really are."