Every time the Bartlett offense knocked on the door the Huntley defense was there to slam it shut.
In a game resumed on Saturday evening after a lightning postponement on Friday, the Hawks racked up 404 total yards. However, the Huntley defense was tough when it mattered, particularly in the red zone. The Red Raiders forced the Hawks to turn the ball over on downs four times in Huntley territory, twice inside the 10-yard line, to secure a 17-7 victory at Millennium Field in Streamwood.
Bartlett turned the ball over on downs at Huntley's 33-yard line in the first quarter, at the Huntley 40 in the second quarter, at the Huntley 6 in the third quarter and at the Huntley 9 in the fourth quarter.
"I thought they were outstanding," Huntley coach John Hart said of his defenders. "I would say it's an area that maybe was not a strength in the past, like whenever bad things would happen another bad thing would happen. Here we just fought."
"It's little times like those where you just want to bring out all the effort," senior defensive lineman Zach Herbert said of the red-zone stands. "Even when we think we've got nothing left in us, just bring out that little bit that we didn't think we had in us."
The Bartlett running game was held to 47 yards on 20 attempts, so the Hawks kept the ball in the air. Senior quarterback Jordan Flint, committed to play baseball at Eastern Illinois, completed 27 of 44 attempts for 359 yards.
Flint was intercepted twice, including a key first-quarter pick in the end zone on Friday night by Huntley junior safety Tim Ryan. Senior linebacker Aaron Rutkowski snagged the other interception on the last play of the game Saturday. Flint would have posted better passing statistics if he'd had a little more help, according to his coach.
"It was key drops," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "The kids played well offensively, we just had too many key drops. I think for the first game our kids didn't quit. I'm proud of that. They played hard. We just have to find consistency."
When play resumed Saturday late in the first quarter of a scoreless game, Huntley quickly converted a first down and kept driving to the Bartlett 17-yard line. Facing fourth-and-7, Hart went for the field goal and Donnie Young split the uprights for a 3-0 lead with 10:47 left in the second quarter. The kick capped a 16-play, 63-yard drive.
Huntley caught a break when a bad long snap resulted in Bartlett punter Cory Krolikowski getting tackled for a 2-yard loss at his own 28. The Red Raiders needed only 9 plays to score on a drive that featured punishing fullback Jake Witt. The 5-foot-9, 220-pound senior converted on fourth-and-1 at the 3-yard line with a 1-yard run, and he carried twice more until he crossed the goal line, giving the Red Raiders a 10-0 lead with 3:27 left in the first half.
Witt scored after bouncing off an attempted tackler at the 1.
"As soon as I saw somebody coming -- usually, my coaches say "Hey, just truck through them, plow right over them, get a pancake.' I liked it."
Bartlett responded with a 66-yard screen pass to Fordham-bound receiver Bryce Petty down the 8-yard line, but a penalty at the end of the play backed the Hawks up to the Huntley 21 with seven seconds left before halftime. Forced to kick after an incompletion, the 28-yard attempt by Alex Triantos went wide right.
The Hawks immediately threatened in the second half, but the 12th play of a 59-yard drive failed as receiver Isaiah Cottman caught a swing pass but was stopped for no gain, which gave Huntley the ball at its own 6-yard line.
Two possessions later, Huntley drove 81 yards in 11 plays to take a 17-0 lead. Josh Esikiel capped the march with an 8-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Anthony Binetti, who completed 17 of 29 passes for 178 yards without an interception. Brandon Altergott keyed that drive with 3 catches for 60 yards. He led the Raiders with 6 receptions for 114 yards.
Bartlett's defense scored the only touchdown of the game for the Hawks. Esikiel caught a pass and was stretching for first-down yardage when the ball was stripped and scooped up by junior defensive back Zach Hayes. He ran 36 yards up the sideline for a touchdown with 3:31 to play, but the Hawks could not recover the onside kick and ran out of time.
"We were tough and we were resilient," Hart said. "And I think we're going to get a lot better. And our offensive line has gotten a lot better. I think that's our biggest improvement."