Barrington's Ray Niro did not pass or run the football on the Broncos' first 5 plays from scrimmage. But when the Bronco joystick had the ball after that, Barrington began to light up the playing field.
Niro accounted for 295 yards in the air and on the ground, ran for 2 touchdowns and passed for another to help Barrington hold off host Palatine 26-24 Thursday. It was the first time that Barrington beat Palatine in the last 5 years.
"It was another epic battle," Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said. "The kids found a way tonight and I was really proud of them."
With the win, Barrington (6-0, 2-0) also clinched a playoff spot and set up a showdown a week from Saturday with unbeaten Hoffman Estates.
Niro, who came into Thursday's game accounting for 80 percent of Barrington's total offense, was happy to play point guard for the Broncos and distribute the ball to his teammates.
"We've got other guys on this team," Niro said. "Our team has so many guys who can do so many things. I don't want the ball in my hands if we are scoring."
Jake Parson had a pair of touchdown receptions and Alec Andrea was a nice second option for Barrington running the ball and also throwing an option pass for a touchdown.
But stopping Barrington means stopping Niro and Palatine just couldn't do that.
"He is a good football player and they utilize his talents well," Palatine coach Corey Olson said. "He is running around out there like a jack rabbit and we just couldn't catch him. It was just a matter of time before he fond someone open."
Palatine (3-3, 1-1), which had dominated Barrington the past years, looked like it would do it again. The Pirates took their first possession and drove 79 yards in 10 plays with Jake Moertl scoring on a 1-yard run to lead 7-0.
Niro, who rushed for 150 yards on 21 carries and was 17-of-21 for 145 yards, brought the Broncos right back.
After moving the ball down to the Palatine 35, Niro went back to pass. Trapped and then appeared to be tackled, Niro somehow broke free, and raced the distance for a touchdown. With its place-kicker injured Barrington went for 2 and Andrea scored to make 8-7.
Palatine regained the lead thanks to a pair of great catches.
Johnny O'Shea had an over-the-shoulder grab for a 23-yard gain. Two plays later Jason Rivera was on his back in the end zone when he made a one-handed catch of a DJ Angelaccio pass that put the Pirates up 14-8 with 3:11 left in the first half.
Niro directed the Broncos back down the field.
With less than 13 seconds left in the half, Barrington put quads out to the right and left Parsons alone on the left. Parsons made a move inside when he left the line of scrimmage and then broke back to the corner and Niro dropped the ball into his hands to tie the game at 14 at the half.
"I was the sole receiver, so they just told me to go get it," Parsons said. "He threw me a perfect ball."
Niro put the Broncos up 20-14 on 7-yard TD run in the third quarter.
The Barrington defense, then came up big when Palatine drove to the Barrington 3. Alec Gibas, Josh Gouskos, Mark Di Iorio, Ron Kaitlin, Luke Goodwin and Andrea pushed Palatine back and forced the Pirates to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Caleb Runge to make it 20-17 with 10:25 left.
Barrington's offensive line, which lost Tyler Wegehaupt on the third play of the game, began to help Niro and Andrea find more running room. Alec Meister, Geoff Frenk, Sam Butera, Jorge Gavina and Brad Warman opened holes for extra running room. Andrea then threw an option pass to Parsons for an 11-yard touchdown to make it 26-17 with 5:21 to play.
"I am loving this year's offensive line," said Warman, who is the only starter back on the offensive line from last year. "We are smaller, but we have the heart."
Palatine got a late touchdown as Johnny O'Shea (5 catches, 117 yards) took an Angelaccio pass and turned it into a 40-yard score with 19.6 seconds left. But Parsons recovered the onside kick to end the game.