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Bartlett's Chris Kantzavelos is pulled down by South Elgin's Tyler Christensen as he scores his second touchdown Friday. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
On a night when Aaron Everson broke Bartlett’s single-season rushing record, it was a 6-foot-4, 255-pound player best known for his contributions at defensive end that provided the biggest spark for the Hawks offense.
Central Michigan recruit Chris Kantzavelos went above and beyond his typically strong play on defense by hauling in a pair of touchdown catches to help Bartlett knock off rival South Elgin 27-7 on Friday at Millennium Field. The Upstate Eight Valley win keeps the Hawks in the hunt for a third straight league championship and also clinches the program’s 12th trip to the playoffs in 13 years.
Kantzavelos’ first touchdown reception came on a 15-yard halfback pass from Everson early in the second quarter that tied the score at 7. Kantzavelos then put Bartlett (6-2, 4-1) ahead for good when he dragged several defenders into the end zone to finish off a 24-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Kyle Garcia shortly before halftime.
“I wasn’t going to let up on that,” Kantzavelos said of his second touchdown catch. “We knew we needed this win to get into the playoffs and we got it done.”
Everson enjoyed another huge rushing night for the Hawks, who improved to 5-1 in the all-time series against the Storm.
The senior running back racked up 262 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries, marking the sixth time this season he has topped 230 rushing yards. He now has 1,709 rushing yards and 25 total touchdowns this season, both of which are school records.
“It’s an awesome feeling to have that record,” Everson said. “It’s up there forever until someone breaks it.”
The outcome remained in doubt well into the second half as Bartlett clung to a 13-7 advantage. The Storm appeared poised to take the lead late in the third quarter, but a promising drive stalled at Bartlett’s 20-yard line and resulted in a turnover on downs.
The Hawks answered with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ate 6:11 off the clock before Everson scored on a 2-yard plunge to make it 20-7 with 10:27 remaining. Everson later sealed the victory with a 58-yard touchdown run with 1:26 left.
For South Elgin (3-5, 2-4), it was a night of missed opportunities as its chances of reaching the playoffs were dashed. The Storm marched 65 yards on eight plays on the opening drive of the game to take a 7-0 lead on quarterback Rob Cuda’s 12-yard touchdown run, but three other trips into the red zone failed to produce points.
“We’ve got some kids that play hard, but we’re not big or talented enough to just sit there and dominate,” South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. “We can’t miss those opportunities.”
Cuda finished with 72 rushing yards to go along with 142 passing yards for South Elgin. His top target was Nate Marotta, who caught five passes for 76 yards.
Garcia had 50 rushing yards and completed all three of his passes for 40 yards for Bartlett, which simply wore down the Storm with three scoring drives that lasted 12 plays or longer.
“I think we only had seven possessions the whole game,” Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. “But we took a lot of time off the clock, and that’s our game plan.”
BARTLETT 27, SOUTH ELGIN 7
South Elgin 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Bartlett 0 13 0 14 -- 27
SE – Cuda 12 run (Bree kick), 8:19
B – Kantzavelos 15 pass from Everson (Hrbacek kick), 5:50
B – Kantzavelos 24 pass from Garcia (kick blocked), 0:24
B – Everson 2 run (Hrbacek kick), 10:27
B – Everson 58 run (Hrbacek kick), 1:26
Team statistics SE B
First downs 16 22
Comp.-att.-int. 12-25-1 4-4-0
Passing yards 142 55
Rushing att.-yards 23-137 52-333
Total yards 279 388
Fumbles-lost 2-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 2-10 5-35
South Elgin – Cuda 11-72, Ware 9-51, Cager 3-14.
Bartlett – Everson 38-262, Garcia 9-50, Kirchhoff 2-15, Mazzei 2-6.
South Elgin – Cuda 12-25-1 142.
Bartlett – Garcia 3-3-0 40, Everson 1-1-0 15.
South Elgin – Marotta 5-76, Balaja 3-40, Cager 1-11, Stanko 1-10, Christensen 2-5.
Bartlett -- Kantzavelos 3-48, Everson 1-7.