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Elgin's Town Jug back to Larkin
By Jerry Fitzpatrick | Daily Herald Staff

Larkin players and fans celebrate after the Royals beat Elgin 22-21 Saturday at Memorial Field, taking the Town Jug back to the west side for the first time since the 2008 season.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Larkin quarterback Kyle Newquist celebrates the Royals' triumph.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Elgin running back Dennis Moore (21) goes in for a touchdown during the second half of the Maroons' 22-21 loss to Larkin at Memorial Field Saturday.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Larkin running back Mo Jackson (1) dives for extra yards during the second half of play. Larkin beat Elgin 22 to 21 to win the Town Jug during the cross town football game Saturday, September 24, 2011 at Memorial Field in Elgin.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Larkin line backer David Perez (33) can't stop Elgin wide receiver Devin Gilliam (4) from hauling in a late touch down in the fourth quarter. Larkin beat Elgin 22 to 21 to win the Town Jug during the cross town football game Saturday, September 24, 2011 at Memorial Field in Elgin. td

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Larkin line backer David Perez (33) celebrates after a failed two point conversion attempt late in the game. Larkin beat Elgin 22 to 21 to win the Town Jug during the cross town football game Saturday, September 24, 2011 at Memorial Field in Elgin.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

The Larkin team including Larkin linebacker Sylvester Smith (22) and Larkin offensive lineman David Duda (72) celebrate late in the game during the second half of play. Larkin beat Elgin 22 to 21 to win the Town Jug during the cross town football game Saturday, September 24, 2011 at Memorial Field in Elgin.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Larkin linebacker Sylvester Smith (22) hoists the Town Jug after the Royal's victory. Larkin beat Elgin 22 to 21 to win the town jug during the cross town football game Saturday, September 24, 2011 at Memorial Field in Elgin.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/24/2011 11:26 PM

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It would be difficult to pinpoint a more thrilling three-minute stretch in the history of the series between rivals Elgin and Larkin than the final three minutes of the Royals' 22-21 heart-stopping victory at Memorial Field Saturday.

Trailing 15-14 in the fourth quarter, Larkin (3-2, 2-1 Upstate Eight River) drove 64 yards in eight plays to the Elgin 1-yard line, keyed by a 43-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Newquist to receiver Shaquille Mosley.

However, Larkin running back Mo Jackson was stopped on fourth-and-goal for no gain by Elgin's Devin Simon, Zach Lindstrom and Tim Gross.

The critical goal-line stand gave Elgin (1-4, 0-3) the ball on downs with 2:50 to play, but the Maroons didn't maintain their upper hand long.

Larkin senior linebackers Brett Barry and Drew Shore burst through the line together on the very next play, a dive, and tackled Elgin sophomore running back Jaylen Clemons in the end zone for a go-ahead safety. The stunning 2-point takedown lifted the Royals into a 16-15 lead with 2:46 to play.

It's no surprise Barry and Shore tackled Clemons together. The inseparable friends are the same height (5-11) and weight (175 pounds) and are nicknamed Frick and Frack for a reason by Larkin coach Mike Scianna.

"We basically do everything together, including tackle," Barry said.

"Coach can't even differentiate between us on film," Shore said.

Larkin then recovered an onside kick at the Elgin 32-yard line and drove for a first down to the 6. The Royals could have chosen to kneel and kill the clock with 1:25 left on the clock, but instead lined up to run the ball.

"I wanted a timeout but they ran (the play)," Scianna said. "God bless the kids, they just wanted to run it and win it."

Elgin's coaches, down to their final timeout and unable to stop the clock, told their players to let Jackson score, which he did on a 6-yard run that upped Larkin's lead to 22-15 with 1:19 left.

"We let them score because there was no way we could get the ball back without any time left," Elgin coach Dave Bierman said. "So let them score and see if we can get a chance."

Larkin missed the extra point, leaving the margin at 7 points.

Elgin got the ball back with 1:06 to play and promptly sliced through the Larkin defense for 70 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Sitter completed 5 of 6 pass attempts on the drive, all to receiver Devin Gilliam, who made a 14-yard touchdown catch just inside the pylon with 12 seconds left.

"I saw Ryan rolling out and my first reaction was to take off; he needed help," Gilliam said. "He threw it up and I felt the defender slide past me and just went for it."

Bierman opted to try to win the game with a 2-point conversion. However, Sitter's pass over the middle went in and out of the hands of Elgin's tight end at the goal line, and the Royals and their fans began to celebrate.

After Larkin recovered an onside kick with 10 seconds left and knelt once, the student section charged the field to celebrate the return of the Town Jug Trophy to the west side of town for the first time since 2008.

"This is bragging rights for the rest of my life right here," Newquist said. "This definitely makes our season."

The win gives Larkin a 31-19 lead in the all-time varsity series. It was only the fifth time in 50 varsity meetings that the Town Jug game was decided by a single point.

The game was tied 7-7 at halftime. Larkin scored on its third play from scrimmage when Newquist connected with senior receiver Justin Banks for an 80-yard touchdown on a fly pattern up the right sideline.

Elgin responded by tying the game at 7-7 on its first drive, a 12-play, 51-yard march capped by Dennis Moore's 2-yard touchdown. Moore rushed 19 times for 127 yards, but Jackson was the game's leading ground gainer. He finished with 143 yards on 34 carries.

"We have a bunch of guys, too," said Jackson, a transfer from St. Edward. "All the talk around town has been Dennis, Dennis, Dennis. Now we're getting Larkin back on the map."

Elgin fumbled the second-half kickoff and Larkin capitalized 8 plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jackson for a 14-7 Larkin lead.

Elgin roared back to take the lead early in the fourth quarter. A 31-yard pass from Sitter to Moore put the Maroons in the red zone, and they cashed in on fourth-and-goal from the 15. Sitter found Moore for a swing pass and he cut inside Gilliam's block for a touchdown with 9:07 left in the game.

Bierman went for the 2-point conversion to take the lead. The gamble paid off that time as Clemons ran for 2 points and a 16-15 Elgin lead.