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Batavia loves fourth down.
The Bulldogs converted 3 of them Saturday night in Rolling Meadows, two of which led to touchdowns as the Bulldogs bounced the Mustangs 48-13 in the Class 6A playoffs on Saturday night.
Batavia will host Lake Forest in a state quarterfinal matchup next weekend; the date and time will be announced Monday.
"We are aggressive," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "We will go for it. Our kids are smart. They listen and are coachable, and they are playmakers."
Piron gambled twice in the first half -- and pulled pocket aces.
Leading 7-0 after a 1-yard by Kevin Green, Batavia (10-1) faced fourth and 9 at the Rolling Meadows 30. Micah Coffey then delivered a perfect strike to Jordan Zwart on a post pattern to put the Bulldogs up 14-0 with 8:13 left in the first half.
After Rolling Meadows (7-4) closed to 14-6 on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Suchecki (16-of-31, 204 yards) to Matt Campbell, Batavia decided to roll the dice again.
Coffey delivered again, this time from the Mustangs 28 on fourth and 8, hitting Michael Moffat in the back corner of the end zone. Moffat won his battle with a Rolling Meadows defender to give the Bulldogs a 21-6 lead.
"It must have been the Batavia down," said Coffey, who was 17-of-27 for 196 yards. "My linemen gave me time and I just took my shot downfield."
Those two conversions were in stark contrast to Rolling Meadows, which failed twice early in the first quarter to convert on fourth down. The Mustangs had a dropped pass on one play, and failed on a quarterback sneak on another.
"We just couldn't afford to miss on plays when we had the opportunity," Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. "We had a couple of mistakes that just killed us."
Rolling Meadows came up short just before the end of the half when the clock ran out on a drive, stalling the Mustangs at the Batavia 15.
"We just didn't make plays when we need to," Sucjhecki said. "They did what we thought they would do. We just didn't play 'our' football."
Batavia took advantage of another Rolling Meadows miscue midway in the third quarter when the Mustangs had a fourth down snap sail over the head Suchecki, giving Batavia the ball at the Mustangs 25. Two plays later, Anthony Scaccia bolted into the end zone from 28 yards out to make it 28-6.
Meadows got a huge lift on the ensuing kickoff when Matt Dolan raced down the near sideline 97 yards as the Mustangs closed to 28-13 with 4:48 left in the third quarter.
Batavia responded by going 68 yards in 9 plays. The Bulldogs again converted a key fourth down when Coffey hit Moffat for an 18-yard gain to keep the drive alive. Scaccia capped the drive with a 5-yard run, and the Bulldogs were on their way.
"Throughout practice this week we focused on executing our game plan," said Scaccia, who rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries. "And it worked out perfectly. My line blocked great for me today."
Batavia closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter on a sneak by Coffey and a 12-yard run by Anthony Moneghini.
"We had a great week of practice and prepared well," Piron said. "To stop a team like this is so difficult. We have a group of kids who root for each other and really like each other and they want the season to go on. "
Mishler was proud of the way his team battled all year.
"I thought we fought real hard," Mishler said. "I thought our effort was fantastic. This is a great group of kids and they have given so much to this program."