24 combined penalties.
Just your average run of the mill (I'm not going to say the burnt out "Wild Wild West" adage here) game in the uber-competitive MSL West.
Looking to start the season 6-0 for the second consecutive year, the Hoffman Estates Hawks rallied from a 19-point halftime deficit, and withstood 17 penalties, to defeat the visiting Palatine Pirates 47-44 Friday night at Garber Stadium, sending a packed homecoming crowd away happy.
"It was ugly tonight, ugly," said Hawks head coach Tim Heyse. "We knew coming in that this game would be a dogfight, they're (Palatine) not a 1-5 team, they're a quality team."
Entering the contest, the Hawks had dropped their 11 previous meetings with the Pirates. Having been outscored 412 to 95 in that span, they had never scored more than 21 points against their conference foes.
And early on, it looked like history would repeat itself as Palatine took just 11 seconds to score on the opening drive of the game. Quarterback Zac Garnmeister hooked up with wide receiver Jake Gronwick on a 65-yard TD toss on the Pirates’ first play from scrimmage to give the visitors a 7-0 edge.
After a Caleb Runge 24-yard field goal extended the Palatine lead to 10-0 midway through the first, Garnmeister again hooked up with Gronwick, this time on a 30-yard pitch and catch, to make it 17-0 with 54 seconds left in the stanza.
Needing a spark to inject life into a stunned home crowd, senior Hawks receiver Jordan Lane provided just that when he took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the house to cut the deficit to 17-6.
Both teams would then trade scores on the next two possessions to make it 24-12 Palatine with under five minutes until half. Then Garnmeister, who threw for 287 yards in the first half alone, bulled his way into the end zone from a yard out on fourth-and-goal to push the Pirates lead to 31-12 at intermission.
Faced with a 19-point deficit at home, the Hawks stared in the face of adversity and met it head on.
Still trailing 31-12 in the third quarter, the Hawks defense, who had held its previous opponents to an average of under 10 points a game, managed to tame Garnmeister and company to close the gap to 31-19 entering the final frame on an Isaiah Cooper 1-yard run.
Just seven seconds into the fourth, with Palatine pinned at its own 3, senior defensive back Cameron Kindred corralled a fumble in the end zone for a score. That made it 31-26, and the momentum seemed to have shifted entirely to the Hawks.
"At halftime, I said that we're going to play from first whistle to last whistle," said Heyse. "These guys are bulldogs."
Back came the Pirates when Garnmeister connected with senior Jake Dreksler for a 16-yard TD pass just over a minute later to make it 38-26 with 10:40 to play.
After the Hawks countered with a Krogstad to Kindred 15-yard TD toss, it appeared as though the Hawks were out of rabbits in their hats when Ronald Todd gave the Pirates a 44-33 lead with 3:23 to go with his second TD run on the evening.
With time as its nemesis, Krogstad efficiently marched the Blue and Orange down the field. Less than two minutes later, he hit Jordan Lane from 10 yards out to cut the Pirates deficit to 44-39. Lane tacked on the two-point conversion to make it 44-41 with 1:06 to go.
With one timeout remaining for the Hawks, it all came down to recovering the onsides kick on the ensuing kickoff, or else Palatine could run out the clock.
And Hoffman did just that, recovering the onsides kick and setting up shop at its own 44 with over a minute to go.
"That was the game right there," said Palatine head coach Corey Olson. "All we had to do was recover the kick and could have run out the clock."
The Hawks then proceeded to march to the Pirates 14-yard line with under 10 seconds to play. That's when Krogstad, from the shotgun, shimmied, and shook off would-be-tacklers and lobbed a prayer over the outstretched arms of two Pirates defenders, into the welcoming arms of Lane for the game-winner, setting off sheer pandemonium throughout the entire stadium.
"It's funny because I told the guys (seniors) after practice yesterday, this game could be a life-timer," said Heyse. "I told them you're gonna remember this game for the rest of your lives , it's your senior year of homecoming…and for it to end this way…."
With the win, the Hawks moved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference while the Pirates dropped to 1-5 and 0-2.