By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
For a brief moment, things looked good for the Rockford Boylan Titans in their IHSA Class 6A semifinal game against Batavia.
Boylan won the coin toss. They were able to get the wind in their favor on a blustery day. Then, they stopped the Bulldogs on a fourth down.
The first play from scrimmage was even good for Boylan, as quarterback Demry Croft scampered down the right side and picked up a first down.
That was the end of the good times for Boylan.
Nick Pumilia fumbled on the next play. Soon after, All-State Batavia running back Anthony Scaccia was running in his first of three touchdowns, and the Bulldogs cruised over the Titans 38-6.
Things got worse for Boylan after the first turnover. Croft threw two first-half interceptions, doubling his interception total on the year, including one that was returned 56 yards for a touchdown by Rourke Mullins. And a low snap on a punt led to a fumble and set up a short field and another Scaccia touchdown.
When it was all said and done, Scaccia had 98 of his 184 yards in the first half, and Batavia was up 24-0 at halftime.
“We tried to instill a sense of urgency this week,” Boylan Head Coach John Cacciatore said of his team’s penchant for slow starts. “If you don’t have that, this team will have you down by 20 or 30 in the first half, and come out and do it again in the second half.”
And the Bulldogs continued to pour it on. While the first half belonged to Scaccia, the second half was all quarterback Micah Coffey as Batavia put the game away.
Coffey threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the second half. One of those touchdowns was a 90-yard strike to Jordan Zwart down the sidelines.
In all, the Bulldogs’ offense was able to torch the Boylan defense for 402 yards, even with being set up with short fields several times after turnovers. It also helped that their defense played just as well.
Their defense, led by Anthony Thielk’s 11 tackles, one sack and one interception, harassed Boylan into one of their worst offensive performances in years.
Not only did Croft have two interceptions, but Boylan had four turnovers in all. They also only managed 167 yards, much of which came on a final drive at the end of the game that saw Croft run in for a touchdown as time expired to give Boylan their only score of the game.
At the end, the size and speed proved to be too much for the Titans in their bid to return to the 6A championship game.
“They are loaded,” Cacciatore said. “You look at their roster, from top to bottom, they are filled with sizeable, fast athletes.”
Cardinals return to championship
While things did not go well for Boylan, the Stillman Valley Cardinals pulled one of the biggest upsets of the playoffs, going on the road and defeating defending state champion Aurora Christian 28-26 to move to the finals in Class 3A.
Stillman Valley’s All-State running back, Zac Hare, could only manage 65 yards in a back-and-forth game. But he did score two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 12.7 seconds left.
That 54-yard game-winning drive only took 2:15, responding to a drive that saw Aurora Christian take a 26-21 lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Austin Bray to Legend Smith.
The win gives Stillman Valley their sixth trip to the state championship game. They are 4-1 in this round, and will be looking for their fifth state championship.
The Cardinals will face St. Joseph-Ogden, who won 44-21 over Greenville. The game will be at 4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 29, at Huskie Stadium on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.
Things did not go as well for fellow Big Northern West Conference mate Rockford Lutheran.
The Crusaders trailed 14-0 at halftime of their IHSA Class 4A semifinal match-up, but couldn’t muster any offense, and ultimately fell to Geneseo 35-7.
James Robinson and Nate Wieting both battled injuries for the Crusaders, which contributed to their offensive struggles.
Despite the loss, this was the furthest the Crusaders have ever been in the playoffs. Geneseo will face Rochester in the finals.
From the Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2013, issue