Under pressure, Buffalo Grove comes up big
Friday night at Deerfield was a bounce-back game for Buffalo Grove.
Especially for the defense.
BG shook off the ill effects of last week's 37-0 loss to Barrington by defeating the Warriors 14-7, with the Bison "D" coming up big -- most importantly late in the fourth quarter.
BG's defense shut the door on a Deerfield drive with minutes remaining , forcing a turnover to secure the win.
"We needed to respond from last week," said senior linebacker Sean Jacobs. "We weren't our best on both sides of the ball (against Barrington) but today we came out and were a heck of a lot better."
"We talk about the fact that we've got to be a team that responds," said BG coach Jeff Vlk. "You can have a bad event happen to you but if you don't respond well there's no chance of a good outcome happening. We had lost a few players key (to injury), but guys like Max (Oberman) and Connor (Adams) really stepped up tonight."
It looked bleak at the start for the Bison when early on they were backed up in the shadow of their own end zone.
And when running back Christopher Huber was tackled at the goal line midway through the first quarter, Deerfield was calling for a safety -- but the officials placed the ball at the 1-inch line and BG slowly fought its way out of trouble.
On second down from the 21, Adams threw a short pass to Oberman, who outraced the Deerfield defense 79-yards down the sideline for the game's opening touchdown.
"Max has that breakaway speed," said Adams. "I just knew he was going to be there so I got him the ball and he made a play."
Buffalo Grove scored again in the second quarter on a tackle-breaking 7-yard run by Adams to take a 14-0 lead at intermission.
"At halftime we were confident," said Adams. "We had no doubt we were going to win this game."
The third quarter didn't begin well for the Bison as Adams threw an interception, and Deerfield marched to the BG 28.
Then Warriors receiver Adam Pottinger made an incredible, Odell Beckham-like 1-handed grab of a Ryan Nagelbach pass in the corner of the end zone -- with a BG defender draped all over him -- to cut the Bison lead in half.
But that didn't shake the BG faith according to defensive lineman Carlos Salgado.
"The only mindset we had this week was that we were going to respond," said Salgado. "We went hard all week in practice. We all have the letter R on the back of our helmets -- that stands for respond -- and that's what we did tonight."
Deerfield had all the momentum entering the fourth quarter, but the BG defense was up to the task.
First the Bison defense, led by the strong play of senior defensive lineman Ron Rigenstrup, stopped a Warriors drive with 5:57 remaining and forced a Deerfield punt.
The Warriors got the ball back late and drove deep into BG territory but on fourth down with 1:40 left the Bison pass rush, led by Salgado, forced a fumble by Nagelbach and Rigenstrup recovered.
Deerfield had one last chance with 10 seconds left near midfield but 2 Hail-Mary passes by Nagelbach were knocked away by the BG secondary.
"At the end we were just so focused," said Jacobs of the BG fourth-quarter defensive effort. "Our line really stepped it up. Guys like Carlos Salgado, Michael Goubine, Rigenstrup and Elliott Rosales were just tearing it up."
Oberman finished with 115 yards rushing and 91 yards receiving for BG.
"All the guys did great tonight," added Vlk. "Our defense -- we have 10 and sometimes 11 seniors on that defense -- and they do a nice job. They make checks on the field and I almost feel like the coaching is done by the time I get to the game because they just about run it themselves out there.
"Guys like Jacobs, Carter Gledhill, Luke Muscarello, Andy Polk, all those guys -- I'm happy we have them."