The same way you can hardly tell Glenbard North's Justin and Phillip Jackson apart on the football field is how the Jacksons set apart the Panthers from their competition.
But even with all their talent and impressive statistics they combined for 234 yards and 3 touchdowns Saturday night in a 27-21 Class 8A playoff-opening win over host Barrington it wasn't until under two minutes left that they and their Panthers teammates could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
That was when Phillip Jackson's 120-yard night was complete with a 4-yard run that earned the first down to allow No. 11 seed Glenbard North to kill the clock against timeout-depleted Barrington, a No. 6 seed.
"My brother did a better job than I did. He had 3 touchdowns, I had none," the senior quipped.
Justin, indeed, scored on a 50-yard dart and determined runs of 3 and 2 yards. But the biggest Panther TD came on a play Barrington seemingly had stopped.
On third-and-goal at the 9, with 5:03 to play and the scored tied at 21-21, quarterback Ryan Murphy slipped a tackle in the backfield, ran for his life and tossed a pass into the end zone. Six-foot-2 tight end Logan Henshall outleaped the crowd for the ball, and the broken play became the winning points on the second and final pass completion of the night for the Panthers (7-3).
"Even when they missed the extra point, I felt like we were going down to score and win the game," said Barrington coach Joe Sanchez after his ninth playoff appearance.
Except after a three-and-out, Barrington (7-3) never got the ball back thanks to Phillip Jackson's first-down plunge.
It was the only time Barrington didn't answer a Glenbard North score. Chase Murdock (30 carries, 130 yards) responded twice, finishing two drives with 4-yard TD runs, the second as spectacular an effort to go 4 yards as you're likely to ever see.
Barrington QB Mark Bennett (10 of 18, 113 yards) hit Sam Handler (7 catches, 65 yards) after a neatly executed play-fake for a 7-yard score on a fourth-and-1 with the whole house expecting Murdock to get the ball on the second-quarter snap.
Handler addressed his underclass teammates after the game with an emotional charge to prepare, compete and achieve to keep the program rolling.
"We left a lot of plays on the field," he said through a tear-stained face, accepting blame for what would've been a circus catch he just missed on a long toss from Bennett in the third quarter with defensive back Tremel Smith draped all over him. "That's going to haunt me."
"We had some opportunities, when our defense came up with some stops," said Sanchez.
Especially in the second half, when Murdock, pulling double-duty at linebacker, along with Sean Caffe and Dylan Zyzda did a much better job containing the Jacksons.
"The offensive line, they're so great," Justin Jackson said of Daniel McHale, Cody Burandt, Cody Gondek and D'Angelo Hodges, who helped the Jacksons account for 240 of Glenbard's 253 yards of total offense. "They're so big. They just move people. Our credit goes to them."
Murdock also had a surplus of credit for his own teammates, supplying praise after he appeared to have run out of tears but not hugs for an offensive line that help pave the way to some stellar rushing numbers for him over the past three seasons.
"All three years, they always bring it," Murdock said. "They always had my back."