It was too much of Joliet Catholic's Michael Ivlow and not enough of an injured Drew David for Kaneland to advance in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
Saturday at Joliet Memorial Stadium, Joliet Catholic senior Ivlow ran the football 12 times for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 45-8 Hilltoppers victory over No. 5 seed Kaneland. No. 4 Joliet Catholic advances to the 5A quarterfinals against No. 1 Montini, a 40-7 winner over Marian Central.
Kaneland's senior three-year starting quarterback, David sustained a possible broken rib or two running on the Knights' third possession of the game midway through the second quarter. Joliet Catholic (10-1) led 7-0 at the time. Backup quarterback and starting linebacker Tyler Carlson took over the Knights' offense.
"I got held up by a couple guys and some kid came in with his helmet and put his helmet right on my ribs, and it was right below my rib protectors," said David, 6-of-13 passing for 69 yards with 26 yards rushing before he joined Knights right guard Sam Bower (knee) in getting knocked out of the game.
"(David's) a great player," said Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp, seeking the program's 14th state championship. "It was a shame that that happened but that definitely, I think, took the wind out of their sails a little bit, losing a player of that caliber."
Despite the outstanding Ivlow, who upped his season touchdown total to 29 on an unofficial 2,360 yards rushing, without David it was difficult to gauge Kaneland's comeback ability though Carlson had his moments.
"I played in one game against Sycamore, so I knew what I was doing a little bit," said Carlson, 10-of-18 passing for 95 yards. "I know most of the offense and I played wide receiver last year, too. I was just going to go in there and give it everything I've got, plain and simple."
With David at the helm on the game's first possession the Knights drove 59 yards to the Hilltopper 21, then stalled. After Ivlow broke a 67-yard touchdown run on his first carry, Kaneland (9-2) went another 41 yards before it hit a wall.
"Our defense did a little bending but no breaking that whole first half, basically," Sharp said.
Kaneland took off again early in the second quarter, David hitting Dylan Nauert on a 20-yard pass play to help the Knights reach Joliet Catholic's 21-yard line. David got hurt, Kaneland was stopped, and a 38-yard field goal try went wide left.
"Everything we were doing seemed to be working till we got to the 20-yard line, then great defense by them," said Knights three-year starting lineman Shane Jorgensen. "They just executed better than us."
Ivlow immediately broke a sweep 80 yards for a touchdown and 14-0 lead at 4:58 of the second quarter.
Ivlow said the off-tackle lane was preferable to challenging Kaneland's interior linemen Justin Diddell, Jaumaureo Phillips and Andrew Kray.
"We just went outside," Ivlow said. "We couldn't run inside on them till the second half. They're very good."
Sharp enjoyed the sequence after Ivlow ran 24 yards for his third touchdown at 2:22 of the second quarter. The Hilltoppers executed an onside kick recovered by Mike Gruben and Ivlow produced his fourth and final touchdown, a 15-yard trap through a Jeep-size hole that gave Joliet Catholic a 28-0 lead entering halftime.
"I think that was key right there," Sharp said, "those two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the half were big."
Though the horse had left the barn after Joliet Catholic took a 38-0 third quarter lead on the first of Nick Borgra's 2 touchdowns and a field goal, it became more plain it was not Kaneland's day when an apparent Hilltoppers interception return for touchdown was brought back by penalty, and on the next play Borgra ran 51 yards for a touchdown.
The Knights, falling in the second round of the playoffs a second straight year, scored at 6:42 of the second quarter when Nate Dyer capped a 10-play, 69-yard drive on a 3-yard run. Under duress Carlson tossed a conversion pass to Dyer.
Thus ended a 43-5 four-year stretch featuring four-year players like lineman Alex Snyder and kicker Matt Rodriguez and such three-year starters as Gary Koehring, J.R. Vest and Joe Komel.
"All I can say is we just had a truly amazing group that we had here, and we had a tremendous run with them," said Knights coach Tom Fedderly.
"Some of them I had up here for four years," he said. "I had nine others that I brought up as sophomores. That senior group just had a tremendous run. They were classy right to the end, they didn't quit, they just kept playing, fighting through everything. I just wish them the best and we're going to miss them terribly."