It all went according to plan.
The Knights on Saturday contained Crystal Lake Central's ground game, turned the Tigers over, and established their own style of ball control.
Kaneland quarterback Joe Camiliere completed 18 of 27 passes for 261 yards and 4 touchdowns to direct the top-seeded Knights to a 34-7 win over No. 8 seed Crystal Lake Central in the Class 5A playoffs.
Kaneland (11-0) advances to its first state quarterfinal since 2006 and will visit No. 4 seed Vernon Hills (10-1), a 37-22 winner over Tinley Park.
"It's a great second-round win," said Knights coach Tom Fedderly. "We were really nervous about this team physically running the ball, stopping the run. Just a real great performance by our defense, I thought."
Crystal Lake Central tailback Gage Harrah entered the game with 1,528 yards rushing out of the Tigers' combination of Power-I and double-wing sets. Kaneland held Harrah to 37 yards on 16 carries, allowing only Dyllon McKinney's 9-yard touchdown run on the Tigers' first possession.
"They had that first drive, they came out and scored. It seems to be a little routine we've got going this year. We get it fixed," said Kaneland defensive end Blake Serpa.
Linebacker Tyler Callaghan led Kaneland with 6.5 tackles and defensive back Jacob Razo made 6.
"We kind of just got comfortable with it," Serpa said. "As you see, all they got was 7 out of it."
Kaneland struck first, taking its first possession 11 plays and scoring on Camiliere's 21-yard pass to Callaghan, a skinny post from the right slot for a 7-0 lead after a quarter.
Crystal Lake Central (8-3) answered with its best drive 15 plays covering 80 yards in 7 minutes, 4 seconds. McKinney took a pitch from quarterback Brett Schuld and dove inside the left pylon to tie 7-7 at 11:46 of the second quarter.
Kaneland kept the heat on. Camiliere rolled out to find Danny Helm on the right sideline. The 6-foot-3 freshman who entered the game with 2 catches and made 3 Saturday for 63 yards stepped out of a tackle at the Tigers' 27-yard line, cut in and avoided pursuit for a 13-7 Kaneland lead.
The mojo really went Kaneland's way later in the quarter. Crystal Lake Central forced a punt only to fumble the return. Kyle Davidson recovered at the Tigers' 40. "I had a good feeling, because usually that doesn't happen," Davidson said.
Camiliere said, "Any time you can get the ball on a turnover, especially with good field position, on offense we just wanted to get a score on the board being that close. Turnovers can win or lose a game and we took advantage of it and put points on the board after it."
The Knights scored twice in the last 5:13 of the second quarter, Serpa taking a handoff 27 yards and then catching an 18-yard touchdown pass.
"We were hoping to get the ball there and score," Crystal Lake Central coach Matt Fralick said of the turnover. "Obviously that hurt pretty bad. It got us down two scores and we were never able to recover from that."
After a scoreless, penalty-marred third quarter, Kaneland scored the knockout on Camiliere's fourth touchdown pass with 3:42 left to play, a 27-yarder to Quinn Buschbacher, who caught 7 passes for 104 yards.
"I'm really happy scoring 34, holding them to 7," Fedderly said. "To come out and play the first half that we played was what we thought we needed to do with a team that wanted to run the ball. We got some big plays and we stopped the run, so that's what we wanted."