If you've ever thrown a party in a new home only to have the annoying neighbors come over and wreck everything, you know how South Elgin felt after Bartlett ran roughshod in a 45-10 Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division football victory Saturday.
Bartlett, the second team to visit South Elgin's new football stadium, became the first road team to win at the venue by stuffing the South Elgin running game and capitalizing on Storm turnovers.
Bartlett (4-2, 3-0) won the turnover battle 4-0 and held the offense of South Elgin (2-4, 2-2) to 145 rushing yards 75 of which came on quarterback Zach Gross' touchdown run with his team trailing 45-3 in the fourth quarter.
"We expected to have an awesome game and the scoreboard shows it," said Bartlett quarterback A.J. Bilyeu, who completed 9 of 13 attempts for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. "We weren't going to let up right from the beginning. We came here to win, especially on their field. They've got a nice field. We've got to share ours with Streamwood. It's something personal. We came to win."
Bartlett took a 3-0 lead on Ian Dobek's 35-yard field goal with 3:52 left in the first quarter, a mere prelude to the coming points explosion. Bartlett linebacker Demetrius Coleman sparked the onslaught. He forced a fumble by hitting Gross on a keeper at the South Elgin 26-yard line.
James Butler (16 carries, 61 yards, 2 TD) scored 3 plays later on a 17-yard run to put Bartlett ahead 10-0.
David Reisner's 22-yard field goal pulled the Storm within 10-3 with 7:13 left in the first half, but Bartlett responded with a 69-yard catch and run by 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior tight end Lorenzo Mitchell. That set up a 6-yard scoring pass from Bilyeu to senior receiver Zach Karys.
Karys, who finished with 5 catches for 96 yards, broke South Elgin's spirit with his next touchdown. He and Bilyeu made their hours of practice pay dividends by connecting on a 27-yard scoring play with 38 seconds left in the first half on what they call a shake route.
"We pulled that out of our pockets," Bilyeu said. "Me and him know it like the backs of our hands and it worked out for us real well. He kind of fakes a slant and then busts it off right to the corner of the end zone."
Karys sensed a change in the Storm defense after his second touchdown put Bartlett ahead 24-3.
"They played a good game, but you could tell they didn't want it anymore after we went up on them," Karys said.
South Elgin further deflated when Bartlett junior Aaron Everson returned the second-half kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and a 31-3 Bartlett lead. Everson faked a handoff and bootlegged the ball for 10 yards before he burst for daylight and deked Reisner to go all the way.
"We played pretty well all year long, and I guess we picked one day to have about everything go wrong," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. "We made some mistakes early on. It was a 10-3 ballgame with just under six minutes left in the first half. Then we fumbled the ball in our end and they scored ... I thought the kids on defense played pretty well all day long, but we couldn't run the ball. We couldn't get first downs and we gave Bartlett a short field all day long."
South Elgin's running game, which averages 208 yards, never gained traction without injured right guard Jon Slania. The all-UEC Valley Division lineman could return next week, Schabert said.
"He's a huge part of our line," Gross said of Slania. "We had a kid in there who hasn't played a lot and it was tough for him. Offensively, we just couldn't get anything going. Our running game really got stopped right away. They filled the holes pretty fast and we didn't get anything on the run, so we had to switch to the pass."
Gross was limited to 6 completions in 16 attempts for 73 yards. He rushed 7 times for 124 yards and a touchdown.