One play made all the difference in the world for host Round Lake and Antioch in North Suburban Conference Prairie Division football action Thursday night.
The Panthers were well on their way to concluding a time-consuming scoring drive when quarterback Anthony Burton headed for the goal line on a second-and-goal play from the Antioch 1 with about 45 seconds left in the first half.
What happened next changed the entire complexion of the second half as Burton ran wide to his left and was stood up by defenders. Then Antioch linebacker Zach Freundt stripped the ball and went 95 yards in the other direction for a 20-0 Sequoits lead.
From that point on, Antioch (7-0, 4-0) basically took command of the game as the Sequoits built a 34-0 lead after three quarters en route to a 34-6 victory over Round Lake (1-6, 1-3).
Antioch coach Brian Glashagel compared Freundt's stripping of the ball to the type of play Bears defensive back Charles Tillman has become notorious for. Glashagel knows what a huge momentum-changer it wound up being.
"That was huge because instead of 14-7 it was 20-0 and being on the other end of that was disheartening for them," said Glashagel, whose impressive ground attack rolled up 387 yards rushing overall. "That was just a classic job of stripping the ball like Tillman would do."
The Panthers looked like they might get buried right away as Antioch quarterback Josh Anttila hit Anthony Formella with a 33-yard TD pass down the right sideline before the extra point by George Gonzalez made the score 7-0 just 1:55 into the contest.
The Sequoits struck again on their second possession as a 1-yard TD run by Danny Arden (77 yards on 12 carries) made the score 14-0 with 5:05 left in the first quarter.
After a very slow start offensively, Round Lake got rolling early in the second quarter as an 18-yard pass from Burton to Daniel Vega put the ball on the Panthers' 40.
Round Lake gradually worked its way down field with a 13-yard pass from Burton to Steven Handy putting the ball on the Antioch 15. Then a 9-yard pass to Anthony Gutierrez put the ball on the 6 before the eventual back-breaking play by Freundt moments later.
"If we go into halftime down 14-7 it's a different game, but Antioch is a great team and we were a little bit hesitant in the first half," said Coursey.