ROCKFORD -- St. Viator safety Casey Kmet may be just a sophomore, but he already knows a thing or two about respecting his elders.
"I listened to everything our seniors told me," said Kmet about his preparation for Saturday's Class 6A playoff game at Rockford Boylan. "I also listened to our coaches. They put in a great game plan and they put us in a great position to win."
Kmet had 2 clutch sacks late in the game -- 2 of 6 sacks in total for the Lions -- and his brother Cole Kmet, one of the seniors he spoke about, pitched in with 2 sacks as well as scrappy Viator defeated Boylan 24-13 in Rockford.
The Lions had limped into the postseason with two consecutive losses and were a big underdog, but they used great defense to shock the Titans.
"I talk all the time about making plays at critical junctures," said St. Viator coach Dave Archibald. "We've been in some tough games lately with playoff atmospheres where we didn't do that, but today the guys came to play and they made the plays."
The Lions completely shut down Boylan in the first half, except for a Nolen Reeser field goal. And St. Viator scored an early touchdown on a Darreontae Jackson 68-yard run to go into halftime leading 7-3.
The Lions extended the advantage in the third quarter when Bryce Hellgeth kicked a 25-yard field goal, but Boylan tied the game minutes later.
It looked like the Titans' score might take the wind out of St. Viator's sails but instead, the Lions struck back by driving to the Titans 2.
On fourth down, Cole Kmet ran in from 2 yards away to give Viator a 17-10 lead.
"That motivated us," said Viator linebacker Wilson Starr of the Boylan tying touchdown. "That basically made it 0-0. We didn't want this to be easy -- we had a lot of fight in us today and it was all hands on deck."
Boylan was able to creep within 17-13 with another field goal, but Viator put the game out of reach after Cole Kmet, from his receiver position, caught a 59-yard bomb from quarterback Hellgeth to end the third quarter.
That put the Lions at the Titans' 13, and after a 12-yard Jackson run, Hellgeth plunged in from 1 yard away to make it 24-13.
Then the defense took over again, stopping Boylan on three consecutive fourth-quarter drives to earn the win.
Anthony Citrano and Anthony Maraviglia had the other Viator sacks, while Marc Clark grabbed an interception before going down with an ankle injury.
"This is huge," said Starr. "No one gave us a chance today. We didn't get a lot of respect coming in here with a 5-4 record."
"We've been relying on our defense all year," said St. Viator senior Sam Calmeyn. "Today, everybody pitched in."
Jackson finished with 27 carries for 142 yards.
"We wanted to make sure they (Boylan) didn't get too many touches in the open field, because they've got some great athletes," said Archibald. "We also needed to tackle, and we did that.
"We knew they were capable of putting up a lot of points. We put in a good week of practice and made it a priority to stop their skill players. Our defense showed up today."