Palatine's Johnny O'Shea only plays defense in red zone situations.
And for the Pirates late Saturday night, it was an especially bright shade of red.
O'Shea turned it quickly to green when he picked off a pass at the goal line, helping the Pirates to a 20-17 overtime win against Lyons Township in a Class 8A playoff matchup in Willow Springs.
"I was just ready for anything," O'Shea said. "My teammates were able to get to the quarterback. They did the dirty work."
With Palatine leading in overtime thanks to a Jack Grochowski 27-yard field goal, Lyons faced a third and goal just inside the 3. Lyons quarterback Ben Bryant kept the ball on a read option and tried to score going over the left side. Palatine's Brody Muck hit Bryant first, and then the quarterback was swarmed by a host of Pirates. Instead of going down, Bryant attempted to throw the the ball.
O'Shea stepped in front of a Lyons player to intercept the pass and preserve the win.
"My job is to stay outside," Muck said. "The D-line pushed them in and I was there and wrapped him up. I hit the quarterback, and then a bunch of my teammates were there."
The win moved the unbeaten Pirates (11-0) into the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. They will host St. Charles East next weekend.
"We faced so much adversity and these guys stepped up," said Palatine coach Rick Splitt, who was hobbling around on a bad leg after jumping for joy following O'Shea's pick. "The guys played great and the offense did everything we asked them to do. We did every little thing right that you can imagine."
Palatine needed that kind of play after losing starting quarterback Zach Oles last week to a broken collarbone.
DJ Angelaccio, who stepped in last week and did a superb job, managed the offense quite well again Saturday. The junior was 15-of-28 passing for 178 yards. He also rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown.
"DJ did great again for us," Splitt said. "He is getting more and more comfortable out there, and that has helped."
Palatine took a 7-0 lead thanks to an interception by Jake Moertl, who returned it 19 yards to the Lyons 16. Four plays later, Josh Turner, who missed the second half last week with an injury, scored on a 1-yard run.
"We had (Bryant) game-planned all week," Moertl said. "I just read the play. I just sat there and he threw it to me."
Lyons (8-3) bounced back to take a 10-7 halftime lead on a 40-yard field goal by Nathan Rusk and a 65-yard bubble screen from Bryant to Brandon Fischer.
"We just made one mistake in the first half," Splitt said. "We just needed to get things going after the half."
The Pirates did just that. They took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched downfield behind the offensive line of Carson Walker, Andrew Martino, Ryan Garner, Basa Balanganayi and Zach Proctor, covering 67 yards in 14 plays. Angelaccio scored on a 5-yard run to make it 14-10 with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
After an interception by Palatine's JT Streepy, the Pirates got on the board again. Grochowski booted a 30-yard field goal with 1:56 left in the third quarter as the Pirates increased their lead to 17-10.
Lyons tied it with 6:48 to play on a 10-yard pass from Bryant to Rusk.
Palatine had a chance to win in regulation. The Pirates drove from their own 18 to the Lyons' 18. But Grochowski's 35-yard field goal just missed, wide left.
In overtime, Palatine ran three plays without gaining a yard. Grochowski came in from the exact same angle, this time blasting the kick through the uprights to give the Pirates a 20-17 lead.
"I just let the first kick go," Grochowski said. "I came back out there and I was happy that they had faith in me. I just got it in my mind what I needed to do, and I did it."
Lyons moved the ball inside the Palatine 3 thanks to a pair of runs and an offsides call against the Pirates. But then Palatine's speed on defense caught up with the Lions.
"The defense played great," Splitt said. "Everybody responded with the highest detail. We continue to preach those little things, and it paid off."