Facing a 31-14 deficit against an upset-minded DeKalb squad early in the third quarter, Kaneland realized there was plenty of football yet to be played.
The visiting Knights pulled together on both sides of the ball and promptly rattled off five touchdowns over a 14-minute span.
Sophomore Jesse Balluff put Kaneland back in front with a bruising 23-yard touchdown run with 7:16 left, then scampered in from 27 yards out to punctuate a thrilling 49-38 come-from-behind win Friday in Northern Illinois Big 12 East action.
"We never want to give up on anything. That's not our style," said Balluff, who finished with 147 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving.
"I think I aged about 20 years," said Knights coach Tom Fedderly, as his squad improved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the league.
"I can't be prouder of our kids, but I also can't say enough about DeKalb. We were so fortunate to get out of here with a victory."
Kaneland sophomore quarterback Drew David displayed his poise in overcoming a rough first half that included a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by DeKalb's Brian Sisler.
David threw for 218 of his 293 yards in the second half. He completed 9 of his final 10 passes, highlighted by touchdown strikes to Zack Martinelli, Quinn Buschbacher and Sean Carter.
"Drew knows how to keep his head in the game and calm down the offense. He's a great leader out there," Balluff said
"The problem in the first half was me. I was just making terrible decisions," David said. "I think it will really help me going forward knowing that no matter what, everyone on this team is behind me."
After DeKalb took the second half kickoff and marched 63 yards for a score, the Knights defense rose to the challenge.
Jacob Razo intercepted a Sisler pass at the Barbs' 27 and two plays later Martinelli beat his defender over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown with 6:32 left in the third quarter.
Kaneland forced a three-and-out and Buschbacher hauled in a 27-yard reception, followed by a 26-yard slant for a score as two Barb defenders crashed into each other.
DeKalb (3-3, 0-2) regained the momentum and a 38-28 lead with 11:07 left by hitting a 28-yard halfback option touchdown pass from Dylan Hottsmith to Mike Olson.
Undaunted, the Knights engineered an impressive 8-play, 82-yard scoring drive, highlighted by Balluff's 32-yard reception down the right sideline.
From there, the suffocating Kaneland defense forced the Barbs into -17 yards on their final three drives.
"Our defense really helped us get back in the game, especially Jacob Razo," David said. "He was the one who brought us together and told us we were going to win."
It looked like it might be an easy night for the Knights when they scored on a 63-yard drive to open the game and DeKalb mustered just a single yard on its first drive.
However, the Barbs tied the game early in the second quarter and Tucker Code returned a fumble 50 yards to set up a 36-yard field goal from Fotis Pappas for a 10-7 lead.
Balluff scored on a 4-yard yard run to put Kaneland back in front 14-10, but Sisler connected with Jake Carpenter on a 16-yard touchdown for DeKalb on the ensuing drive.