Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 9/16/2016 11:59 PM

Palatine finds winning tempo at New Trier

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By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

Palatine showed that it is right in tune.

There was some concern that Palatine needed to find more of an edge after a couple of wins over lesser opponents the past two weeks, especially in light of the fact that the tough Mid-Suburban West schedule begins next week.

The Pirates showed they were more than ready Friday night by pounding host New Trier 41-21 in a game that wasn't as close as the final score would suggest.

"We responded very well," Palatine coach Rick Splitt said. "We knew this was great opportunity for us and we did the job."

Palatine (4-0) piled up 494 yards of offense and was led by quarterback Zach Oles, who threw for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns while rushing for another.

"We just do what we have to do and take care of the little things," said Oles, who was 11-of-18. "We came into this week knowing we had to make plays against a good team."

With New Trier (2-2) worried about Oles picking them apart, it opened up the running lanes for Josh Turner, especially in the second half. The senior rushed for 158 yards on 15 carries and had a pair of touchdowns.

"I thought it was showing to be a little harder to run tonight," Turner said. "They were targeting our receivers a lot. So that really opened up a lane for me to run."

Palatine used that passing attack to open up a 21-7 lead at the half.

On the Pirates' first possession of the game, Jack Grochowski caught a quick slant pass from Oles and turned on the burners to turn it into a 64-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.

"I felt jammed at first," said Grochowski, who finished with 124 yards on 4 receptions. "I got off the jam and Zack (Oles) led me up. I got caught on pretty much the same thing against Stevenson in our first game, so I just on the burners and went as fast as I could."

The Pirates missed out on a scoring opportunity after Matt Garner recovered a fumble on the ensuing kick. Palatine failed to move the ball from the New Trier 23 and turned it over on downs.

The Trevians responded by driving 77 yards on 18 plays to tie the game at 7-7.

After Palatine failed again to score after getting the ball inside the New Trier 20, it was the Palatine defense that struck. Jake Moertl, who would finish with 2 interceptions, jumped a route on a New Trier receiver and picked off the ball and raced untouched for an 18-yard score that put the Pirates up for good.

"Before that, coach had said to be a little more aggressive on the cover two," said Moertl, who had 2 interceptions in a game earlier this season. "I knew they were throwing to that second receiver, I just went for it."

The Pirates began to pull away just before halftime, scoring to make it 21-7. They drove 92 yards in 8 plays in just over a minute to score when Johnny O'Shea made an acrobatic catch on a pass from Oles with 35.2 seconds left.

"They challenged our pass at first," O'Shea said. "Zach was throwing dimes and we just went up to get the ball."

With the momentum from the end of the half touchdown, Palatine capitalized the next two times it had the ball in the second half.

After the defense led by Moertl, Garner, Brody Much, Scott Elter and John Streepy stopped New Trier on two occasions in the second half, the offense came up with scoring drives. Turner crashed in from the 1 on the first drive, and Oles also scored from 1 yard out as the Pirates opened up a 34-7 lead late in the third quarter.

New Trier scored early in the fourth quarter to close to within 34-14, but Turner ended any Trevians hopes when he busted off a 53-yard scoring run.

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