Playing the role of spoiler, the South Elgin football team put the pedal to the floor against Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division rival Bartlett at South Elgin on Saturday afternoon.
The Storm outgained the Hawks 471-149 in total yards and got 5 TD passes and 2 TD runs from quarterback Rob Cuda (15-for-23, 294 yards) en route to a 46-6 victory to knock Bartlett (3-5, 2-3) out of playoff contention.
Cuda staked the Storm (3-5, 3-3) to a 20-0 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter with touchdown passes of 32 and 53 yards to Jordyn Cruz and a touchdown run of 5 yards.
"We've been focusing in practice on some different things to try and help us have better starts to games," Cuda said. "We've been working on big plays, and it seems to be paying off."
The killer for Bartlett came with 2:39 left in the first half with the scored 20-6. Nate Marotta recovered a fumble for the Storm, the first of 3 straight turnovers that were converted into scores by South Elgin for a 39-6 lead at the break.
That turnover led to a 21-yard TD reception from Nick Menken, and a Marotta interception was later converted into points off a 14-yard TD reception from Tyler Christensen (5 receptions, 110 yards). Another fumble from the Hawks led to a 1-yard TD run from Cuda with 19.6 seconds left in the half.
"They knocked us out of playoff contention last year, and this was good revenge," Marotta said. "It was the first time since I've been here that we've beaten Bartlett, and it was a good team win."
A 15-yard touchdown pass from Cuda to Derek Kumerow started a running clock with 6:33 left in the third quarter. Shawn Griffin rushed for 155 yards on 23 carries for the Storm.
Matthew Callahan (13 carries, 37 yards) had a 4-yard touchdown run for the Hawks, who were held to just 46 rushing yards for the game. Quarterback Jordan Flint finished 8-of-18 for 103 yards, and Bryce Petty had 79 yards on 5 receptions.
Bartlett ends the season against Neuqua Valley (7-1, 5-0) in a UEC Valley Division game. The Hawks will miss the playoffs for only the second time in 14 seasons.
"They're going to come out next week and do their best," said Hawks coach Tom Meaney. "I have faith in my kids. There's a little pride in it as well, and they never give up on their community or their school."
South Elgin has the chance to play spoiler again next week when it hosts St. Charles North (4-4) on Saturday in a UEC crossover game.
"We're going to go out there with a game plan, and we're going to give them our best," said Storm coach Pat Pistorio. "Regardless if we can make the playoffs or not, we always give it our best."