Subject Line (article title)
Send to (required)E-mail
Send from (required)E-mail
Throughout the season, Batavia's high-scoring offense has earned its share of deserving accolades.
The defense is not too bad, either.
On a wind-swept, rain-soaked day when their offense was limited to a season-low scoring output, the Bulldogs (11-1) stepped up on the defensive side of the ball during Saturday's Class 6A football state quarterfinal clash against Lake Forest (9-3) at Bulldog Stadium.
After a 3-and-out series forced a Batavia punt deep from its own territory, the Scouts gained possession near midfield trailing 19-14 with 2:57 remaining.
However, the Bulldogs' defense was up to the challenge, forcing 3 incompletions and a 5-yard loss following a botched snap on the Scouts' final offensive series as Batavia held on for a 19-14 victory.
"We had to keep our guys fired up and we had to come together," said senior cornerback Forrest Gilbertson, who deflected a pass attempt on 2nd-and-10 from the Scouts' 48-yard line.
"One of our best players, Anthony Thielk, was out (cramps) so we had to come together and make things happen without him in there," added Gilbertson.
"On a day like this, we had to play good defense and we did," said Batavia head coach Dennis Piron, whose team advanced to the 6A state semifinals for the second time in 3 years and will face top-seeded Rockford Boylan (12-0) next weekend in Rockford.
"We only gave up one score the whole game," added the coach.
With the wind at their backs, the Bulldogs marched 70 yards in 4 plays and grabbed a 6-0 lead on Anthony Scaccia's 11-yard touchdown run -- his 22nd TD of the season -- with 3:41 left in the first quarter.
After forcing a 3-and-out series, Batavia appeared headed toward another score before the end of the opening quarter.
A 15-yard pass play from Micah Coffey (10-of-20, 222 yards) to Scaccia helped set up the Bulldogs with a 1st-and-10 at the Scouts' 13.
On the next play, senior defensive back Andrew Nelson stepped in front of a Coffey pass and raced 90 yards down the sideline with an interception that gave Lake Forest a 7-6 first-quarter lead.
"That was a mistake," said Coffey, who threw a pair of interceptions and lost a fourth-quarter fumble inside the Bulldogs' 35. "I made a couple mistakes but our defense played unbelievable. The defense had our backs all day."
"Glenbard West and Lake Zurich had a game last year (in the 7A state semifinals) where the same thing happened," said Piron. "Glenbard West was about to make it a blowout and fumbled on a pitch near the goal line, and they took it back (for a touchdown).
"What's important is how you respond -- and we responded well."
Late in the second quarter, junior linebacker Jake Hlava recovered a fumble at the Scouts' 27 to set up the Bulldogs' go-ahead score.
Coffey found Scaccia out of the backfield for a 13-yard TD pass with 2:56 left in the second quarter to give Batavia a 12-7 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs stretched that lead to 19-7 on the opening possession of the second half when Coffey connected with wide receiver Rourke Mullins for a 54-yard TD pass.
"That's my front five giving me time to throw those balls," said Coffey, who had completed a 55-yard pass to Jordan Zwart earlier in the game. "If they don't give me that time, we don't make those plays."
"They were actually delay plays," said Piron. "The linemen gave us so much time -- those were like the third reads Micah has."
Scaccia, who rushed for 136 yards on 32 carries, sealed the win for Batavia when he squished his way to a 3-yard gain on a 3rd-and-1 play with 1:09 remaining.
"Our offensive line is huge so it's easy to hide behind them," said Scaccia.
Averaging 45-plus points per game, Batavia ran into a formidable Lake Forest defense that did not allow more than 21 points in any game this season.
However, the Bulldogs left the mud-caked field with what mattered most.
"I'm really thankful for our defense," said Scaccia. "It was a tough game."
"It was a tough, tough day to play any sport," said Piron. "Two teams slugged it out and had a great high school football game."