The way IC Catholic can dominate a football game, Peotone coach Apostolos Tsiamas felt good trailing by single digits at halftime.
"The score was fine, it was 8-3. We're in the game," the Blue Devils coach said. "Usually at halftime with them they're up by 40-plus points. We had the ball for 19 minutes, I mean, you take away one play, it's crazy to think we're up 3-nothing."
That play was a 78-yard touchdown pass from C.J. West to Lazerick Eatman. They both had more in the tank, leading No. 5 seed IC Catholic to a 29-16 Class 3A second-round playoff win Friday in Peotone. The defending 3A champion heads to the quarterfinals against the winner of Saturday's game between No. 1 Farmington and No. 8 Wilmington.
"Our offense they did a wonderful job with C.J. West leading us and Lazerick in the backfield, two of our seniors. We had to play out for them," said Knights two-way lineman Michael Johnson.
Pressuring Peotone out of halftime, ICCP (10-1) held defensively on Peotone's first possession of the second half, Kevin Cooke making the stop on fourth-and-2 at the Blue Devils' 34-yard line. Four plays later Eatman broke an arm tackle to score on a 12-yard run, and followed with a 2-point conversion run.
"It was very important because they kind of pounded the ball on us, threw away the clock. And we have to take everything that we can get," said Eatman, who gained 107 yards on 22 carries with 89 yards receiving.
"That was the plan at the start of the game, but we didn't execute it," said ICCP coach Bill Krefft. "We did the same thing at the start of the second half. We wanted to come out, we wanted to stop them, get them off the football and then punch one in to put pressure on them because of the kind of offense they run."
On the season No. 4 Peotone (9-2) gained six times more yardage rushing than passing. One reason was Chandler Gartner, who answered Eatman's score with a 58-yard run of his own to cut the deficit to 16-10 at 8:09 of the third quarter. Gartner carried 14 times for 95 yards.
ICCP ripped a page out of Peotone's playbook. The Knights took five and a half minutes to score on a 13-play drive capped by Eatman's third touchdown, a 3-yard run. West set it up first on a fourth-down bootleg scramble and dive, and with a 26-yard pass to Khalil Saunders.
West engineered a 29-10 lead at 9:09 of the fourth quarter, checking into a 19-yard run up the gut, throwing for 16 yards to Saunders. then running 3 yards to score.
Again Gartner answered, taking Trevor Schwiesow's swing pass 53 yards for a touchdown with 8:14 to play. The Blue Devils recovered an onside kick but made nothing of it, and with 4:45 to go Saunders essentially ended it with an interception.
"They made a few more plays in the second half," Tsiamas said. "That's not indicative of how most of their games go."