As a captain on the Glenbard East football team, senior offensive lineman Jack Crackel knows how and when to pump his teammates up.
But when Daniel Hurtado and the Rams defense cause a turnover just before the half, Crackel's job becomes a little bit easier.
"Once we get a turnover, it's huge," Crackel said. "You can feel the energy change out there."
Crackel and the Rams used that extra oomph to score 17 unanswered points en route to a 30-13 win over Bartlett in Upstate Eight Valley action.
The Rams (3-6, 3-2) finished third in the conference with the win.
"That's happened to us a couple of times, where we have a lead or are tied and a team scores right before half," Glenbard East coach John Walters said.
On Friday night the Rams flipped the script. Trailing 7-0 with 1:40 left in the first half, Hurtado intercepted the ball on the Rams 38-yard line and returned it to the Hawks 45.
"We had some things rolling at that point," Bartlett coach Eric Illich said. "That's how it goes sometimes."
After that it was time for the Rams to run their hurry-up offense.
"All season we've been great on two-minute (drill)," Crackel said. "I knew (quarterback Bret) Bushka was going to lead us down there."
That's just what happened.
Bushka completed three straight passes, the last one a 5-yard reception to Kenny Adams on the right side of the end zone to tie the game at 7 going into halftime.
"The momentum into the half was huge," Crackel said.
And they knew it would carry after the half.
"Once we got out here, we knew we were going to have a huge third quarter," Crackel said.
On the Rams first possession of the half, they marched the ball down to the Hawks 13-yard line, where Jared Rech kicked a 30-yard field goal.
"That was awesome," Crackel said. "If we don't score there, I don't know about the game, how it would've ended."
Luckily for Glenbard East, the defense made sure the game wasn't in doubt. Bartlett (2-7, 2-3) was held to three-and-outs on its first two possessions of the half. The Rams defense didn't allow a yard on six plays.
"We didn't really change anything," junior linebacker Jack Baka said. "We knew what they were doing and what we were doing and we were pretty confident in our scheme. We just stuck with it."
And the Rams offense rewarded them, scoring touchdowns on both ensuing drives to build up a 24-7 lead.
"You take that to heart when you're a captain," Crackel said. "We're out here busting our (butts) the whole time."
Bartlett gained a bit of hope, though. On its third drive of the half, Dean Kotsovetis connected with Austin Gates for a 51-yard touchdown that made it 24-13.
"We got the big play that we needed to get back in it," Gates said. "We could have had it."
The Rams killed off any Barlett hopes of a comeback on the ensuing drive.
Glenbard East marched the ball 46 yards in 5 plays, as Rech scored on a 3-yard keeper.
Then on Bartlett's next drive, Baka made an interception at the Rams 10-yard line to seal the win.
"I dropped back, batted it, almost dropped it, caught it (and) ran," Baka said. "Getting up after I got tackled was probably one of the best experiences of my life."
It gives Glenbard East momentum going into the off-season, too.
"Really proud of my guys," Baka said. "We got a really good win (and) finishing in the top half of the Upstate Eight."