Barrington runs into Lincoln-Way East buzz saw
Barrington's magical season came to a disappointing end Saturday in New Lenox.
Lincoln-Way East's defense stifled the Broncos' high-powered offense, forcing six turnovers to eliminate Barrington 49-6 in the Class 8A semifinals.
With the win, Lincoln-Way East (13-0), which was second in the state last year, earned a rematch in the state title game with defending state champion Loyola (13-0). Loyola beat York 23-14 in the other semifinal Saturday.
"It is unfortunate that this game is the one that you are going to remember," said Barrington coach Joe Sanchez, whose school had not been to the state semifinals since 1998. "When you are trying to make a run like this there is just one team in all eight classes that are going to end it the way they want it. That's the beauty of it. That's what keeps you coming. And that's make you work all those hours in the morning, when nobody's watching. That's what these guys committed to."
Barrington (12-1) had a combination of turnovers and poor field position that led to their downfall.
The Broncos came into the game with just three interceptions all season. But the Griffins were able to come away with five of them on Saturday along with a fumble recovery. The Broncos had 12 possessions and never started a possession past their own 20-yard line.
"We just didn't do enough good things today," Sanchez said. "When you make the mistakes we did, unfortunately, they are going to capitalize."
After a missed Lincoln-Way field goal, Barrington drove to the Griffins' 22-yard line. But the Broncos fumbled and the game got away from there. Lincoln-Way East used four turnovers on three interceptions and that fumble recovery to take a 21-0 lead at the half.
Nuri Muhammad (12 carries, 133 yards) had a 47-yard scoring burst to make it 7-0' on the final play of the first quarter. After an interception, Owen Askren scored on a 1-yard run.
Another Griffins interception game them a short field just before the end of the half. Braden Tischer threw to Ryan Usher on 10-yard touchdown pass with 1:25 left in the half.
Barrington, which had come from behind at the half in its previous two playoff games, gave its fans some hope to start the second half.
The Broncos marched 80 yards in 11 plays with Nick Peipert scoring from 9 yards out to close the gap to 21-6 after the conversion kick was blocked. It was the first points Lincoln-Way East had allowed after four consecutive shutouts.
Barrington then attempted an onside kick but the Griffins recovered and that ended the hopes for the Broncos.
Lincoln East scored 28 unanswered points to finish the game. Tischer had a pair of touchdown runs, He also threw another touchdown pass to Usher. Zion Gist added a late touchdown to end the scoring.
"I am so proud of this senior class," Sanchez said. "They made a decision at the end of last season that they were going to change things. And they did. And they took us to places that we have not been to in a real long time."
Dillon Fitzpatrick, who finished with 102 yards on 16 carries, said that his team improved week to week.
"It's not the outcome we all wanted," Fitzpatrick said. "As a team we grew stronger. The turnaround from 4-5 to 12-1 is just incredible. Years past we couldn't get over the hump. I believe this team brought Barrington football back to the town of Barrington. To leave a legacy here is something that is important to me."
Matt Marusich, who caught 7 passes for 46 yards, said his team had a great season.
"It has been a crazy ride," Marusich said. "It was a lot of fun, especially after last year. We have come a long way and I am very proud of what we have done. I wish we could have changed the ending of this game."
Devan Van Ness, who had four tackles for loss, said that his team battled all season.
"We wanted to come out here and win and we all thought we could," Van Ness said. "I love these boys and I am so proud of this team. We weren't supposed to be here. I am happy that we made it this far. We just battled. We had a grudge on our shoulders and we just fought all year."