Nice and simple.
That's the way Palatine coach Corey Olson likes to keep things. There was certainly nothing complicated about the 23rd-seeded Pirates' approach on Saturday as they played stellar defense and kept the chains moving on offense in a resounding 24-3 win over 10th-seeded South Elgin at Millennium Field in Streamwood in the opening round of the Class 8A playoffs.
Palatine (7-3) will host No. 26 seed Edwardsville (7-3) in the second round.
Palatine led just 7-3 at the half but took complete command in the second half. On their first 3 possessions of the second half the Pirates went a combined 177 yards on 37 plays with 14 first downs while using up over 17 minutes of the clock. It all resulted in a pair of touchdowns and a field goal that put the game out of reach.
"We knew from a size standpoint that we should be able to control the line of scrimmage," Olson said. "In the second half we felt good about running the ball between the tackles. We weren't looking for plays down the field. We just wanted to keep grinding it out. Their quarterback (Nate Gomez) is really dangerous so we wanted to keep him on the sidelines by holding onto the ball for as long as we could."
Miguel Rocha made it 10-3 with a 20-yard field goal on the Pirates' first possession of the second half. Quarterback DJ Angelaccio then followed with a 6-yard touchdown run to make it 17-3 with 9:12 left in the game. Angelaccio finished with 30 yards on 11 carries and also threw for 62 yards on 6 of 11 passing.
"It came down to the physical play in the trenches," Angelaccio said. "Our offensive line did an excellent job of executing their blocks and we were able to just grind it out. We've played a tough schedule and played a lot of tough games to get this point. That has helped a lot. We really felt prepared so a lot of credit has to go to our athletic department."
Marcus Stoudemire added a 7-yard touchdown run for the Pirates' final score with 3:56 remaining on the clock. Stoudemire was Palatine's leading rusher with 77 yards on 14 carries.
"It's taken hard work and focus to get here," Stoudemire said. "We just had to keep believing and trusting in one another. Coach was motivating us to play more aggressive and I felt like we got stronger as the game went on."
The Pirates' defense held the Storm to just 154 yards of offense.
"We like to keep it simple," Olson said. "We pride ourselves on just going out and executing. We were flying to the ball today and when we get there we like to hit people."
South Elgin (8-2) had two costly fumbles in the first half. The first came on a botched punt attempt that gave Palatine the ball at the South Elgin 39. It led to the Pirates' first score, a 6-yard touchdown run by Jack Orlando with 2:23 left in the first quarter.
The Storm coughed the ball up again at the Palatine 17 when they were driving late in the second quarter.
The Storm's only points came on a 22-yard field goal by Andrew Bucaro after they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone on 3 attempts from the 1-yard line.
"Putting the ball on the ground and some missed opportunities definitely hurt us," South Elgin coach Pat Pistorio said. "You have to hand it to Palatine though. Their defense was on point. They were able to expose some mismatches up front and made it difficult on us. I'm still very proud of our kids. They have given a great effort all year."
Gomez had 62 yards rushing on 22 carries and 91 yards passing while completing 13 of 22 passes.