Luckily for Antioch, the holes that opened up for its running backs on Friday night were much bigger than its margin for error.
Because that margin is miniscule. Nonexistent, actually.
The Sequoits entered their Week 8 North Suburban Conference Prairie Division clash at Grant knowing that they needed to win their last two games of the regular season in order to finish with 5 wins and have a chance to qualify for the playoffs on points.
They also knew that it wouldn't be easy to knock off a Grant team that had won the last three games in the series.
And yet, the Sequoits seemed to run their offense with ease at times. A surging line paved the way for running backs like Griffin Hill (98 yards), Cam Corey (95 yards) and Alan Taylor (75 yards) to roll up the yardage en route to Antioch's 15-7 victory over Grant.
The Sequoits are now 4-4 (4-1 Prairie) with next week's regular season finale against Vernon Hills sealing their playoff fate. A win and Antioch is in. A loss, and the Sequoits are done for the season.
Meanwhile, Grant, which has already been eliminated from the playoffs, drops to 2-6 overall, 2-3 Prairie.
"It's a lot of pressure," Hill, a sophomore, said of Antioch's do-or-die predicament. "But that just makes you want to play harder."
"We knew we had to win these last two games and we came in with that mindset," Corey said. "We played to win. We knew we needed to win."
Antioch set the tone early and was up 9-0 by halftime. Not only did the Sequoits keep Grant off the board, they dominated the time of possession with big, long drives that kept the chains moving. One of Antioch's first-half drives lasted 15 plays, two others went 9 plays.
Hill opened up the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown on the first possession of the game. That capped a five-minute, 68-yard drive in which all nine plays were rushing plays. Wesley Zegan then added a 31-yard field goal for Antioch just before the halftime break.
"They just kept running it straight up the middle," Grant wide receiver and cornerback Joe Sadausakas said. "We tried to do what we could and we normally have a good defense (against the run). We just weren't on our game today."
Sadausakas tried to get the Grant offense on track after halftime. He hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Bredwood off the halfback option to cut Antioch's lead to 9-7 with 9:12 left in the third quarter.
But quarterback Zach Andre helped Antioch answer on the very next possession. His 1-yard touchdown run capped a 12-play drive, and that put the Sequoits up 15-7 with 4:02 left to play in the third quarter.
"We tried so hard (to play the role of spoiler)," said Sadausakas, who caught 2 passes for 41 yards while Bredwood made 6 catches for 40 yards. "I sincerely thought we could do it. But they came out here and played harder than we did today."
Antioch then spent most of the fourth quarter in ball-control mode to run down the clock and seal the victory.
"When it came down to it, we made drives, like that seven-minute drive at the end to seal the deal," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "I was proud of our guys. We made plays when we had to, we made stops. It's not pretty, but you have to take a victory like this.
"We had to do, once again, what had to be done."