Palatine defense dominant in shutout win over Hoffman Estates
Palatine's defense built a stone wall at the goal line Friday night.
The bend, but not break defense held visiting Hoffman Estates to 12 rushing yards in a 21-0 shutout over the Hawks in the Mid-Suburban West.
"Our plan was to play them straight up," said Palatine linebacker Brandon Hernandez, a three-year varsity player. "No heads were down tonight. We wanted to go all- out. We made some mistakes early in the year and it cost us a chance to make the playoffs. We have two games and we want to go out fighting."
Hernandez was a key factor in the Pirates defense with 2 quarterback sacks in the fourth quarter that stopped Hoffman Estates drives.
"We worked to stop their run on the inside because we knew their fullback (Mekhi Williams, 19 carries, 57 yards) liked to run between the guards. I think we did a good job."
Hoffman Estates quarterback JoJo Lovelace had a rough go of it. He was tackled for 5 losses totaling minus-43 yards. Lovelace, a good passer, did complete 16 passes for 231 yards, but had two key interceptions.
One of two key moments that hurt the Hawks happened in the second quarter.
Hoffman Estates lost a down after a third-down play from Palatine's 30. An ineligible man down field was declined by the Pirates, but the officials took away a down. Williams came up a half-yard short of a first down at the 20.
With 37 seconds left in a scoreless first half, Palatine's Tyler Pecson intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop the drive.
"We knew Palatine was not a 1-5 team," said Hoffman Estates coach Tim Heyse. "They capitalized on our mistakes in the first half and in the second half. Their record did not indicate what type of team they are."
Palatine's Jared Wright recovered a fumble at the Hawks' 35 and returned the ball to the Hoffman Estates 21.
On third down from the 19, quarterback Joe Ayala (4 of 5, 49 yards) threw the first of two third-quarter touchdowns to Luka Popovic for a 6-0 lead with 9:46 left in the quarter.
Popovic set up the second touchdown with a 20-yard punt return to Hoffman's 45.
The Pirates drove to the 14, from where Ayala hit Ronald Todd with a 14-yard pass. Todd was stopped at the 5-yard line, but spun and churned his legs to get into the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 3:32 left in the quarter.
Ayala, coming off an ankle injury, scored from the 1 with 10:21 to finish the scoring.
Alex Cue's 40-yard run set up the touchdown.
Todd has his best rushing game of the year with 172 yards on 25 attempts.
"The plan was simple," said Todd. "We had to do our jobs. Run the ball and that's it. We had to execute. I'm happy. This was my best game of the year."
Hoffman Estates (4-3, 1-2) had one more chance to break the shutout when it blocked a kick and recovered at the Pirate 10-yard line with 4:28 left in the game.
On fourth down from the 10, Lovelace was sacked by Hernandez.
"He's a three-year starter for us," said Palatine coach Corey Olson, whose team moved to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in conference. "We expect plays like that and he delivered. We've been playing hard all season. We executed better tonight and we won the battle up front."