Buffalo Grove storms back to beat Lincoln-Way West
Brian Oberman made sure that his Bison didn't turn into a pumpkin.
Oberman forced a key fumble and Buffalo Grove quarterback Michael Cervantes followed with a pair of touchdown passes. Then the Bison then rallied for a 22-19 win over Lincoln-Way West Saturday in the opening round of the Class 7A playoffs in Buffalo Grove.
The win earned the 6th-seeded Bison (10-1) a showdown next Saturday with Mid-Suburban East rival Prospect. The two teams tied for the East title and Prospect won the earlier meeting between the two teams.
It was Oberman's play that set all that in motion.
Lincoln-Way West had dominated the Bison to that point, leading 19-7, late in the third quarter. But Oberman came on a corner blitz, on a play that he called on his own, to knock the ball free and teammate Trystan Anderson pounced on it at the Warrior 33-yard line.
"That was something we went over in practice based on their formation, " Oberman said. "I was looking for a particular formation and I then went on my own. I hit him and I actually thought he had thrown the ball. I didn't know we recovered until I saw everyone jumping around."
Three plays later, Cervantes, who had thrown only sparingly all season, connected with Blake Juckett in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Buffalo Grove then ran a trick pass play on the conversion with Oberman throwing to George Shiakallis to make it 19-15.
Lincoln-Way West (5-5) took the ensuing kickoff and drove to the Bison 3. But on fourth down, the Warriors' pass in the end zone was incomplete.
Cervantes came out firing again, throwing a 29-yard pass to Scott Murray. The duo connected again, when Murray slipped behind all of the Warriors' defenders to score on a 68-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-18 with 10 minutes to play.
"We don't throw the ball that much," said Cervantes, who was 6-of-1 for 154 yards. "It's just our scheme. When I called for it, we got the ball in the air and my receivers made some plays."
Lincoln-Way West tried to come back. But interceptions by Oberman and then by Dominick Marrazzo in the final 25 seconds sealed the victory.
"Our kids were phenomenal," Buffalo Grove coach Jeff Vlk said. "They never quit. We made some adjustments and they were able to do what we asked of them and it all worked great."
Buffalo Grove got off to great start.
Jacob Pond picked off a pass for the Bison and returned it 27 yards to the Lincoln-Way West 8-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage for Buffalo Grove, Cervantes scored to make it 7-0.
Lincoln-Way West then rode Justin Harris to build a 19-7 half time lead.
Harris was a workhorse, carrying the ball 47 times for 262 yards. He had 28 carries, for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half.
Ryan Shelton kicked a 27-yard field goal for Lincoln-Way West to close the gap to 7-3. The Warriors then took a 10-7 lead on a 34-yard burst by Harris.
The Warriors added a safety when Anthony Izzo and Eric Nowak tackled Murray in the end zone for a 12-7 lead. On the following possession Harris busted off a 13-yard touchdown run to make it 19-7.
But the Warriors could not score in the second half as Buffalo Grove made some adjustments to its defensive scheme to slow Lincoln-Way West.
"We just about controlled the whole game," Lincoln-Way West coach Luke Lokanc said. "But credit Buffalo Grove for making plays when they needed them."