Maine South pulls out victory against persistent Palatine
Maine South led visiting Palatine at halftime of Friday's nonconference game in Park Ridge, but it might not have felt that way to some of the Hawks.
Maine South watched the Pirates march right down the field and take a 7-0 lead on the game's opening possession. But the Hawks responded with three straight touchdowns, but missed all 3 extra points and then saw Palatine score a disputed touchdown at the end of the half to draw within 18-13.
At that point the momentum was all with Palatine, but Maine South righted the ship, scoring on three long drives in the 2nd half to take home a wildly entertaining, well-played 35-27 win.
"We're a pretty good football team," said Hawks coach David Inserra. "I look at us at times and say this is a state-caliber team, but sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot. We have to eliminate some of our mistakes."
Palatine (1-3) led at the end of one quarter, but played catch up the rest of the way, coming close to tying the game late.
"We obviously are getting better," said Pirates coach Corey Olson. "We're playing better as a football team in all three phases, and that's all I ask the kids to do. I asked them to come out and play all four quarters, and if you're in the game against a team like Maine South in the fourth quarter on their field, you're right where you want to be."
Palatine tallied first on a 5-yard pass play from quarterback Joe Ayala to Alex Clue. But Maine South came back with scores from Ryan Kilburg (21-yard run), Dan Lazic (80-yard pass from Luke Leongas) and Michael Sajenko (2-yard run).
Then, with just seconds left in the first half, Palatine, which was out of timeouts, saw Ayala, on a tremendous effort, plunge in from 1-yard away, although the Hawks thought they had him stopped short of the goal line.
"From my perspective," said Hawks senior lineman Peter Skoronski, "we stuffed them, but they kept on churning for about six or eight seconds and got across the goal line when we thought it should have been called after three seconds."
"Their quarterback got in (the end zone). We thought he didn't," added teammate Sean Hayes. "We went in at halftime and talked it over. Coach Inserra got in our heads that we had to come out strong in the second half, and we did that."
Maine South responded in the final two quarters with scores by John Sassan (27-yard field goal), Lazic (10-yard run) and Kilburg on a 54-yard bomb from Leongas.
Luka Popovic brought the Pirates closer on a 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Clue reeled in another touchdown catch from 21 yards out.
Palatine trailed by 8 points when it took possession of the ball with 1:23 remaining.
The Pirates were driving when Maine South senior Dan Locascio intercepted a tipped pass to seal the win for the Hawks.
Kilburg finished with 7 catches for 108 yards.
"Huge win," Hayes stated. "Coming back today, getting this victory and getting to 2-2 was big for us."