Glenbard North knocks out Bolingbrook

Updated 10/30/2021 10:41 PM

Usually, when Bolingbrook runs for 170 yards and scores 30 points, including a safety, the Raiders win.

Saturday was not one of the usual nights.


Instead, Glenbard North rolled into town, rolled up 332 yards overall, and rolled out of town with a 34-30 victory in the Round of 32 matchup.

The floodlights on the field might have prevented anyone from seeing the Northern Lights, but the Panthers (7-3) made the Raiders (7-3) see stars. Specifically, receiver Shea Gaffney, a senior who caught three touchdown passes in the first quarter, and Sam Palmer, a junior who ran for a pair of scores in the second half, including the touchdown that made the difference.

"I watched a lot of film on their defensive backs," said Gaffney, who had one touchdown reception in the regular season. "I was just prepared. I thought I had great routes running."

He did, and quarterback Justin Bland put the ball in Gaffney's hands time after time. The scores were from 17, 31 and 17 yards, the last two following Bolingbrook turnovers.

Raiders coach John Ivlow pointed to what he called "a mismatch in the trenches" as a key worry. Glenbard North's linemen weighed up to 300 pounds, whereas the Raiders' biggest man on the defensive line is 220 pounds.

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"Our guys (in the line) did a great job, and our defense did a pretty good job overall," Ivlow said. "It was a barnburner, just like we knew it would be. I told them, 'You lost three games by a combined 13 points and went toe-to-toe with the big boys.' "

The turnovers hurt early, and the wearing down of the Raiders' defensive line was the difference late. The Panthers ran for minus-1 yards in the first half, but for 141 in the second, with Palmer, all 5-foot-9 of him, accounting for 117 yards.

Glenbard North meets Warren (9-1) in next week's Round of 16. Warren beat Barrington, 27-9, on Friday night.

Bolingbrook led 7-0 just over two minutes in thanks to Christian Ellen's recovery and 56-yard return of LeVonne Havard's fumble. After the first two Bland-Gaffney collaborations, the Raiders took a 14-7 lead on Bobby Ervin's 47-yard touchdown pass to Kyan Berry Johnson with 1:08 left in the first quarter.

The Raiders tied the game at 21 on Jaquan Howard's 3-yard run with 3:53 left in the half, following a 34-yard punt return by I'Marion Stewart.

Glenbard North lost 24 rushing yards on three plays to start the third quarter, that last yard by Damarion Elliston getting tackled in the end zone for a Bolingbrook team safety.

But the 23-21 lead vanished when Palmer scored from the 4 to cap a seven-play drive, and the Panthers made it 34-23 on their next series, when Palmer's 23- and 32-yard runs accounted for the lion's share of the 66 yards on the drive.

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