Schaumburg gains revenge in Elk Grove rematch
A week ago the Schaumburg football players were watching the state playoff pairings on television and eagerly awaiting news of their first-round opponent.
So how did the Saxons respond when they saw they had a chance to avenge one of their regular-season losses with a Class 7A first-round game at Elk Grove?
"Every single person on the team was looking forward to it," Schaumburg senior offensive lineman Kyle Pollock said. "We were all in (teammate Bronson Wittkamp's) basement together and when we heard Elk Grove announced we went crazy. Second chances don't come around too often."
This time around the ninth-seeded Saxons made a much different impression. Quarterback Mark Iannotti and running back Shepard Little combined for 409 rushing yards as they never trailed in a 38-21 victory Saturday night at Robert Haskell Stadium.
Iannotti also passed for 100 of the Saxons' 509 total yards as they scored the first 17 and last 14 points to set up next Saturday night's second-round visit from top-seeded Simeon (10-0).
"You don't get a chance to get something back like that," Iannotti said of a 36-34 home loss to eighth-seeded Elk Grove in Week 4.
None of the Saxons really thought much of getting that opportunity then. Usually they've been in a higher class than Elk Grove (7-3).
But Schaumburg scored on two of its first three opportunities on Iannotti runs of 6 and 17 yards. He finished with 160 yards on 22 carries and Little rushed for 226 yards on 19 carries.
"Mark had a heck of a game and he's become the focal point for them," said Elk Grove coach Brian Doll. "We were so focused on Mark it opened up a couple of big runs by Shepard (61 and 76 yards to set up scores).
"The main thing was we were chasing the whole first half and that's probably what did it for us. We turned the ball over at key times."
Elk Grove's second lost fumble of the first half set up Adam Syvertsen's 24-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead 3:25 before intermission.
Two other possessions ended a yard short on fourth down plays. Josh Marchok stuffed Nick Meyer at his 47 and Bob Quilico stopped Eddie Stahl on a 4-yard pass at the Saxons' 18.
"We thrive off our defense and when they get a big stop the momentum swings to our side," Iannotti said after the Saxons also got interceptions from Dru Richardson and Eric Carlson.
"Defensively I think the guys believed in each other," said Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling. "I'm proud of our kids for being unselfish. We told them, 'Do your job and someone is going to make plays.'"
But as expected, the Grens responded behind Meyer in a sluggish three-hour game with 20 combined penalties for 181 yards. He spun away from the back-side rush of Pat Felde and fired a 4-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Joey Bishoff to cap a 12-play, 88-yard drive 34.5 seconds before halftime.
And two 3-yard touchdown runs by Meyer, who rushed for 146 yards and threw for 143, got Elk Grove within 17-14 and 24-21 in the third quarter.
"I felt for awhile it might be a last-possession game again," Doll said.
Two critical plays kept it from happening. On second-and-25 from his own 24, Little slipped two tackles in the backfield and raced 73 yards to set up his own 3-yard touchdown run to make it 24-14.
"We knew we would move the ball," Little said of the Grens' rallies. "I wasn't worried about it at all."
Schaumburg faced fourth-and-11 on its next possesion when Kyle Lamberty went 18 yards with an inside screen from Iannotti. On the next play, Iannotti hit Quilico for a 9-yard touchdown to make it 31-21.
Little's 3-yard run with 3:28 left finished off a 94-yard drive behind Pollock, Jon Moore, Mike Baumhart, Nick Nykaza, Matt Zolper and Sean Duminie.
"It would have been easy to fold when they had us on the ropes," Stilling said. "But our kids kept their composure and that's what champions do."