Kaneland comes back to stun DeKalb
It had been four years since Kaneland defeated DeKalb, and the prospects for the Knights ending that streak didn't look good for much of Friday night.
Yet somehow Kaneland rallied from 13 points down on two occasions to knock off the No. 5 ranked team in Class 6A, winning 21-20 in front of a standing-room-only crowd on both sides at Peterson Field in Maple Park.
Chaz Shaw capped the Knights' comeback with a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:50 remaining. After holding the Barbs to another 3-and-out -- DeKalb only had 1 first down in the second half -- the Knights ran out the clock with a physical drive that Johnathan Alstott capped with a 5-yard run to convert a 4th-and-4 with 1:25 remaining.
"I'm speechless," said Drew Hahn, Kaneland's two-way, four-year starter who spent much of the night in DeKalb's backfield harassing the Barbs' quarterback and running backs. "All the other guys would probably say the same thing. This is the greatest win we've been a part of. This is an unbelievable feeling right now."
The win gets Kaneland (4-1, 1-0 in the Northern Illinois Big XII East) off to a good start in its bid to win the final NI Big XII title before the conference disbands.
"We said it's the last time we are probably going to see them and we wanted to end it on a high note," Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said. "We said we were tired of losing to them."
Kaneland moved the ball well on the opening drive, converting three straight third downs. Joe Smith hit Max Gagne for a 20-yard gain for a first down at DeKalb's 23, but on the next play Michael Newman intercepted Smith and returned it 70 yards. Jaylen Hobson ran 9 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 DeKalb lead.
The Barbs (4-1, 1-1) made it 13-0 in the second quarter when quarterback Trenton Kyler kept the ball and raced 19 yards to the end zone. Without their normal kicker, DeKalb missed the extra point that proved to be critical later.
Kaneland got back in the game with its defense. After Alstott pinned the Barbs at their own 4 with a 46-yard punt, DeKalb tried to throw from its own end zone.
Hahn and Wilson Giffney nearly had Kyler for a sack and a safety, but Kyler tried to throw the ball away. Only the pass went right to Trevor Carlson who also was rushing in to get the quarterback.
Carlson caught the ball in the end zone for a touchdown to bring the Knights within 13-7 at halftime.
"I came in off my spot, I wasn't expecting it (the ball)," Carlson said. "I saw Drew coming in so I was going in to help with the safety and the ball was right in my face so it was just reaction time I guess."
After Jalon Redmond broke free for a 93-yard touchdown run down the right sideline early in the third quarter, Kaneland again found itself down 13. Smith responded with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Alstott that brought Kaneland within 20-14 going to the fourth quarter.
The Barbs were their own worst enemy with 11 penalties. Two of them came on one play in the fourth quarter, first a pass interference and then an unsportsmanlike call on a third-down play that gave Kaneland first down at DeKalb's 17.
After Smith ran the ball down to the 1-yard line, Shaw dove in the TD and Andreas Matarangas booted his third extra point for a 21-20 lead.
On Kaneland's final drive that ran out the last four-plus minutes, Alstott converted a third down, DeKalb jumped offsides on a third-and-5, and Alstott came through with a 5-yard run on 4th down. Kaneland converted 2 of 4 fourth downs and 10 of 20 third downs while the Barbs were just 3 for 11 on third down.
"I think we're a physical team, we play some stout defense, we run the ball pretty well," Ryan said.
Alstott ran for 94 yards on 29 carries and caught 3 passes for 43 yards. The teams were almost even in total yards -- 266 to 260 -- but Kaneland put together more sustained drives with 18 first downs to DeKalb's 8.
"Last week on film I made some mistakes and I realized if we are going to keep winning I have to fix those," Hahn said. "Me along with all my other teammates fixed our mistakes and came ready to work all week and it showed tonight. We put together four quarters of Kaneland football."
The frustration for the Barbs boiled over when current DeKalb athletic director -- and former Kaneland AD -- Peter Goff was thrown off the DeKalb sideline by the sideline referee late in the third quarter. Goff watched the rest of the game from outside the fence.
"We did a lot of things tonight that were uncharacteristic of what we are about as a football program," DeKalb coach Matt Weckler said. "Way too many mistakes. Way too many penalties. Hats off to Kaneland though. We weren't mentally ready to compete and they took the game from us. Good for them."