With a 3-4 record coming into Friday night's North Suburban Prairie Division clash with Round Lake, Vernon Hills took the advice of a popular insurance company.
The Cougars put their playoffs hopes in a better state by racking up 27 second-half points in a 41-13 victory over the host Panthers.
The teams traded first-quarter touchdowns as Vernon Hills (4-4, 2-3 Prairie) got on the board first via a 3-yard keeper from quarterback Steve Nelson.
Round Lake (1-7, 1-4) answered as Anthony Burton found a streaking Antonio Farley down the right sideline for a 43 yard touchdown connection.
"He's a fast guy," said Burton of Farley. "We knew he could burn and the line held up and I was able to get the ball out to him."
With the Cougars only leading by 7 late in the third quarter, their ground game took over as Jarrett Wood (4 carries, 73 yards) busted off a 37-yard run and Dylan McNamara (8 carries for 50 yards) powered in for a 6-yard score three plays later to extend their lead to 21-7.
After a Round Lake three-and-out, Tyler Peterson added a 3-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Seven seconds later, Wood picked off a Burton screen pass and returned it 35 yards to give Vernon Hills even more breathing room.
"We definitely played much better the second half," said Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken. "They (Round Lake) came out with fire. It was their senior night and they played really well. They took a few things that we wanted to do early. We countered and we were able to make some big plays."
Vernon Hills' Sam Maloof was the game's leading rusher with 102 rushing yards. Brett Peterson and T.J. Flis added touchdown runs for the Cougars.
"In the second half, we knew we had to come out strong if we wanted to keep your playoff hopes going," said Maloof. "We came out strong and kept scoring and we never let up. It boosted our confidence, which we really needed."
Burton finished with 155 passing yards and 2 touchdowns for the Panthers. He also led Round Lake with 49 rushing yards.
"Going into the locker room down a possession, we were excited about that," said Round Lake coach John Coursey. "They (Vernon Hills) made some adjustments at halftime and they are very well coached. They put us in a couple of situations where we had to make an adjustment and they executed and it kind of hurt us."