Palatine finishes strong, tops Conant
Palatine got its all-important fifth win Friday night, but it wasn't easy by any means.
The Pirates needed a 3-touchdown rally in the fourth quarter to overcome a determined Conant team 27-14.
Palatine quarterback DJ Angelaccio, who celebrated his 18th birthday with 2 TD runs against the visiting Cougars, gave props to his O-line after the victory.
"The offensive line was just unreal tonight," said Angelaccio of Carson Walker, Eddie Orozco, Manny Juarez, Andreas Rivas and David Balanganayi. "Those lead blockers out there, it's not hard to run behind them. They did a great job tonight."
Conant held the upper hand for most of the first three quarters.
The Cougars opened the scoring on 1-yard run by Jack Reiger, but Palatine tied the game at 7-7 before the end of the first half.
The Pirates went on a 13-play, 64-yard drive down to the Cougars 1-yard line that culminated in a score when Juarez scooped up a fumble in the end zone.
But Conant kept the pressure on after halftime and took a 14-7 lead into the fourth quarter when QB Kevin Polaski hit Cole Albach with a 37-yard TD strike.
Despite trailing, however, Palatine junior wide receiver Jake Gronwick said the Pirates were confident heading into the final 12 minutes.
"We knew we could come back and get the win," said Gronwick. "We're a team that plays great in the fourth quarter, a second-half team, and we did what needed to do."
Cortez Hogans and Bryant Smith set the tone for the Pirates on defense in the final stanza with some big plays, and teammate Josh Okee was a force on special teams with a couple of strong tackles on kickoffs to pin the Cougars deep in their own territory.
On offense, first senior Marcus Stoudemire ran in from 4 yards out to tie the game at 14-14 with 11:02 remaining in the game.
Angelaccio gave Palatine the lead minutes later with a 4-yard touchdown run, then the QB put the icing on the cake with a 26 yard touchdown jaunt with a couple minutes left.
Polaski finished with 150 yards through the air for Conant, while Albach caught 10 passes for 110 yards.
Stoudemire led the powerful Palatine rushing attack with 15 carries for 68 yards, while Angelaccio had 80 yards rushing.
"It feels great," same Palatine junior Marshawn Rayford of the Pirates' key fifth win. "We struggled a little in the first quarter, but our teammates pumped us up.
"We pushed through, came out strong, and came out with the win."
Gronwick added that the O-Line play was one of the keys to the win.
"Every week," said the junior, "those guys come out and play great."