Larkin and Elgin represent two sides of the same coin as the city of Elgin's two public high schools.
Following Elgin's 26-20 overtime victory at Memorial Field on Friday night, the Maroons and Royals represented opposite sides of the emotional spectrum.
Larkin (4-5, 2-4), needing a fifth win to become playoff eligible for the first time since 2006, turned the ball over five times, including 3 of its final 4 possessions.
The most costly turnover came on second down in overtime when a pitch to the right on second-and-goal from the 8 was fumbled and recovered by Elgin senior Heberto Perez.
Elgin (1-8, 1-5), which entered the annual crosstown game for the Town Jug trophy on an 18-game losing streak, wasted no time. Lined up in a full-house backfield, Elgin senior running back Shareick Morris raced to the right sideline and beat the Larkin defense to the pylon to win the game, thereby sending the Elgin sideline into a frenzied celebration over two years in the making.
"My coach told me I was going to get the ball, so when they gave it to me I knew I already knew I was going to score," said Morris, who rushed for 57 yards and 2 touchdowns. "My team believed in me and blocked for me and it was over."
Elgin second-year coach Anthony Mason, a former NIU defensive player who won his first game as a high school coach in his 18th try, said the Maroons kept their focus in practice all week with the goal of springing the upset.
"It's just a matter of hard work. It's hard work," Mason said. "When your back's against the wall, what are young going to do? Are you going to fold or are you going to keep on fighting, fighting, fighting? This was the matter today. We could have easily, easily folded many times this game but they didn't because we've already been through it. I don't think (Larkin) had been through this situation. We've been through this situation and been on the other end of heartbreak, but today was our day and we made it happen."
Larkin gained 287 total yards despite the 5 turnovers, but the miscues too often halted momentum.
"We had a lot of good stops, a lot of turnovers," said Elgin junior defensive end Roy Panthier. "We got stops when it really mattered."
A turning point came in the second quarter. Larkin had taken a 12-0 lead on a 69-yard pass from David Hibbler and a touchdown by Kindrel "Nomo" Morris, who rushed for a game-high 161 yards on 34 carries.
However, the Maroons roared back with a 2-yard Shareick Morris touchdown after a 7-play, 70-yard drive. The Elgin defense then stripped the ball out of the hands of a stood-up Kindrel Morris and defensive lineman Damian Martinez rumbled 55 yards for a touchdown that gave Elgin a 14-12 lead with 3:52 left in the second quarter.
"I think we lost the turnover ratio 5-1 so you're not going to win games when you do stuff like that," Larkin third-year coach Dragan Teonic said. "We haven't turned the ball over all year long. Tonight we did. Some of it was self-inflicted, some of it was the pressure they brought. I thought they played really well. They were focused.
"This is the kind of stuff that happens when Elgin and Larkin play. They're going to play better than usual and we have to match the intensity and do what we do. And we couldn't do it. We couldn't sustain it enough, we didn't protect the ball enough to win and it cost us at times. I think that was the difference in the game."