Prospect hangs on to beat DeKalb in dramatic fashion
Looking for its first playoff win since 2012, Prospect's football team put on one of its all-time top offensive shows at chilly George Gattas Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
Trailing 47-35 with less than a minute to go in the third quarter, the 14th-seeded Knights scored 20 unanswered points and then held on for a dramatic 55-53 triumph over No. 19 DeKalb in a Class 7A opening-round game in Mount Prospect.
Luke Zardzin rushed for 4 touchdowns, caught a 31-yard TD pass from Gary Moeller (3 TD passes) and gained 214 yards for the Knights (8-2), who stopped DeKalb's 2-point conversion attempt when Adam Mekky batted away a pass with four seconds left.
"Our offensive backfield was pretty incredible," said Knights second-year coach Dan DeBoeuf, who got the Knights to their first playoff appearance since 2012 last year. "Between Luke and Gary, both juniors. that's pretty incredible how they played tonight."
It was an incredible first half of offense as each team scored on their first five possessions. DeKalb forced the first punt when it was trailing 35-34 with 3:32 left in the first half.
Jalon Redmond scored his second of three straight TDs with 15.8 second left in the second quarter to give the Barbs (6-4) a 40-35 lead at half.
That advantage grew to 47-35 when Redmond capped a 73-yard drive with a 1-yard run.
But then the Knights' never-say-die attitude surfaced again.
"Like our first game last year against St. Viator and again this year against St. Viator and Hoffman Estates, we were down and came back," Zardzin said. "We're used to be down at half and early in the third quarter. We just really know how to stick together."
The rally started with an 11-yard TD pass from Moeller to Noah Marx to make it 47-41 with 4.4 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Knights' defense forced a punt and the offense responded with a 54-yard scoring drive, including a big 17-yard run by Moeller.
The defense then got a huge interception from Ryan Traviolia at the DeKalb 10-yard line. Moments later, Zardzin's 2-yard TD run made it 55-47 lead with 2:45 left.
"That was awesome," Moeller said of Traviolia's pick. "When adversity hit, we didn't go away. We kept grinding and didn't let anything keep us down."
Tyson Splinter also had a 13-yard TD catch and his big 35-yard reception set up a Knights' TD.
DeKalb QB Trenton Kyler was 12-of-19 for 241 yards and the Barbs rushed for 301 yards.
"That's a game to remember," said Barbs coach Keith Snyder. "You wish you were on the other side of the score. It stings when you're not but people will be talking about this game for a while."
The Knights will play the winner of Saturday's game between Rolling Meadows and Lincoln Park in the second round.
"This was definitely a big win for our program," DeBoeuf said. "We are definitely taking a step forward and we'll see where we can go with it.
"Our defense stepped up big in the second half. The most exciting part of is that our whole team, especially the defense, never batted an eye during the game. There was never any doubt or any negativity. They just kept fighting and knew if we'd make one or two plays. we'd be OK."