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Palatine thinks big and delivers at Prospect
By Michael Eaken | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 9/17/2011 11:26 AM

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Palatine came up with some big plays offensively, and the Pirates' defense came up with some similarly big stops.

It all added up to a big 28-8 Mid-Suburban League crossover victory for Palatine (3-1) over host Prospect at George Gattas Stadium.

Junior quarterback Ethan Olles completed 12 of 16 passes for 290 yards, including 2 touchdowns, while junior John Serio returned after missing last weeks game due to a rib injury to rush for 116 yards on 26 carries to pace the Pirates offensively.

Palatine's defensive line limited Prospect to 2 yards in the opening quarter and did not allow the Knights to score until only 1:14 remained in the game.

Now the Pirates head into the MSL West part of their schedule with some big-time momentum.

"I think we can play with anybody," said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly. "But they can also lose to anybody; we just have to keep improving."

Including limiting its mistakes, Palatine accumulated 16 penalties for 135 yards, but an efficient offense and a stingy defense helped the Pirates secure the victory.

Serio scored 2 rushing touchdowns, incuding a 9-yarder with 1:37 remaining in the first quarter to give Palatine a 7-0 lead.

Senior quarterback Sam Frasco finally got Prospect's offense moving early in the second quarter, with his 16-yard gain putting the Knights on the Palatine 21.

But on the ensuing play, Palatine junior Josh Baldus recovered a fumble to halt the Knights' progress.

Palatine was still clinging to a 7-point advantage, when Olles found junior Alex Nawrot down the right sideline for a 71-yard touchdown with 26 seconds remaining in the first half, giving the Pirates a 14-0 halftime cushion.

"It started with O-linemen; their pass-blocking was great," said Olles of the game-changing play. "The receiver did what he was supposed to do and all I had to do was place the ball."

The play punctured any type of momentum that Prospect (1-3) had hoped to carry into the break.

"The play at the end of the half, we just have to make a stop," said Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen. "Give them credit, they made a big play. It was a big turning point in the game."

Palatine didn't let up in the second half with Serio scoring on a 1-yard plunge with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter.

Then Olles struck again, finding Taylor Hall for a 76-yard score with 9:49 remaining to give the Pirates a commanding 28-0 lead.

The Palatine defense did its part by not allowing Prospect any flicker of hope.

The D-line consisting of C.J. Machnik, defensive tackle Julian Turner, defensive ends Nick Novelli and Andrew Laveau controlled the line, allowing linebacker Lucas Rago, and backs Cam Kuksa, Jesse Bobbit, and Jake Demars to shut down the Knights' attack.

"It's all about heart," said Rago of the defensive display. "It starts with the D-line, goes to the linebackers, ends up with the defensive backs. We just played a heck of a game."

Frasco (17 carries, 84 yards) helped Prospect avoid the shutout with a 27-yard touchdown run late in the game, with Sam Mazukelli also contributing 92 yards on 17 carries.