After averaging 264 yards per game on the ground during its recent four-game win streak, the Barrington Broncos offense ran into a buzzsaw on Saturday afternoon.
And that buzzsaw's name was Homewood-Flossmoor.
The visiting Vikings dominated time of possession (17:49) in the first half, allowing just 30 yards of total offense and one first down to the Broncos en route to a 30-7 road victory in the second round of the 8A playoffs.
"I believe that's 5 or 6 weeks in a row that our defense has held the opponent to under 50 yards rushing," said Vikings head coach Craig Buzea.
With the game scoreless midway through the first quarter, Barrington forced H-F's high octane offense to punt and began its first possession at its own 15-yard line. But on the ensuing play for the Broncos, a bad snap into the end zone resulted in the Vikings being awarded a safety for a 2-0 lead at the 6:18 mark.
Just two minutes later, the Vikings, who had been bottled up on the ground by the Broncos defense until that point, went to the air. Dominick Jones connected with sophomore wideout William Pauling on a 78-yard strike to extend H-F's lead to 9-0.
"Will has been our deep threat all year long," said Buzea. "He's just a sophomore and as good a sophomore we have on this program … and we're going to keep using him whether he's 15 or 18."
The Vikings lead ballooned to 16-0 at the 1:41 mark of the second when workhorse running back Leon Tanna (111 rushing, TD) struck pay dirt on a nifty 20-yard scamper that included an impressive spin move midway through. H-F led 16-0 at the break.
Barrington struggled to get anything going offensively to start the third quarter, but a sack by defensive stalwart Mark Di Iorio at the 4:10 mark that forced an H-F punt. It seemed as though that play would be the spark that could get the Broncos offense going.
Less than a minute later, senior Vikings cornerback Gerrell Jackson made a great play and jumped an attempted hitch pass and took it 25 yards to the house for a Pick 6 that extended Homewood-Flossmoor's lead to 23-0. It was the second interception return for a score in as many weeks for Jackson, and his fourth for the season, according to Buzea.
"I got to give a shout out to cornerback Wynston Russell on that because he called out the hitch before the play was run," said Jackson. "And also got to credit the D-line on that for forcing him (Tommy Fitzpatrick) out of the pocket when he threw the ball."
Saddled with a 23-point deficit and just eight minutes to play in the final stanza, Barrington found the yards tough to come by. Defensive lineman Isaiah Coe came up with a sack and on the following play, LaVoise McCoy came up with H-F's second pick of the day to all but ice it.
But even down 30-0 with just 4:13 to go, the Broncos never quit and mounted one final drive that culminated in a Michael Curran 4-yard TD run with 1:35 left in the game, making the final score 30-7.
"We had our chances today, but we just couldn't seem to get anything sustained offensively unfortunately," said Broncos head coach Joe Sanchez. "Tip your cap to them, they were pretty darn good defensively and we knew that coming in."
With the win, H-F moves to 10-1 on the year and has outscored its last four opponents by a 142-10 margin. For Barrington, the Broncos finish the year at 7-4 with a lot to be proud of.
"If you take a look at the full body of work by this team, I'm really proud of these kids," said Sanchez. "They were resilient and the coaches did an excellent job. When we were 3-3, we could have easily caved as a team, but our kids did a great job of battling back to give us a chance at the end."