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Jacobs hardly looked like a 15th seeded 5-4 team at the outset of Saturday’s Class 7A state playoff game on the road against unbeaten defending state champion Rockford Boylan.
After falling behind 10-0 to the Golden Eagles, however, the second-seeded Titans proved they could take a punch or two and counter.
Rockford Boylan scored 28 unanswered points as its defense seized control of the game, and explosive Demarcus Vines returned a punt 75 yards for a back-breaking touchdown in a 28-10 Titans victory.
“We all believed we were going to win coming up here,” Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. “It was tough for our seniors, a hard thing to lose. But we played with a lot of pride today.
“Hopefully what we’re going to do is build on this in the future.”
For a while it appeared they’d be building on an upset victory in the second round. Instead, Rockford Boylan (10-0) advanced to a second-round game against the winner of Saturday night’s game between Huntley and Fenwick largely on the strength of two second-quarter touchdowns.
Vines had the first Boylan score on a 39-yard run up the middle with 9:28 left until halftime, cutting the Jacobs lead to 10-6. The Golden Eagles had scored on their opening drive on Greg Sidor’s 4-yard run, then got a 22-yard Matt Fahey field goal with 50 seconds left in the first quarter.
Boylan’s defense then seized control of the game after Vines’ TD — Jacobs had only 95 more yards after drives of 79 and 58 to start the game.
Safety Matthew Johnson made his 12th interception of the year and first of two on the game on a long pass by Jacobs QB Bret Mooney at the Boylan 44. Boylan quarterback Brock Stull found wide receiver Luke Salamone on a 34-yard TD pass with 6:42 left until halftime and Zack Matthews’ two-point conversion run provided a 14-10 Titans lead at halftime.
Jacobs (5-5) had bottled up Vines and held him to 68 yards on the day, but he found a way to beat them.
“Their defense was impressive,” Vines said. “We looked at them on film and they looked slow, but they came out hard and shocked us for the first few minutes.”
Vines did the shocking with 4:11 left in the third quarter and Jacobs still in it. He misjudged a Fahey punt and it got over his head, but he touched it. Vines went back and picked it up and got to the right edge of the coverage, then broke a tackle down the sidelines and went 75 yards for a 21-10 lead.
“This is the first team to actually kick me the ball in about a year and a half,” said Vines, whose other career TD return came against Richards in last year’s playoffs. “I was happy they took the chance and it worked out in my favor.”
It almost didn’t.
“I almost called the fake punt there, too, so I was a little upset with myself after that happened,” Mitz said. “I thought we contained the kid pretty well and then let him get loose.”
Jacobs continued struggling offensively. Then Mooney lost a fumble while scrambling with 56 seconds left in the third quarter. He later threw another interception to Johnson at the Boylan 10, and the Titans went 90 yards for the final score with 2:15 to play on Zack Matthews’ 2-yard run.
“That (punt return) was definitely huge, it was a big turning point,” said Mooney, who completed 11-of-24 for 140 yards. “But me fumbling the ball when I ran outside was probably the biggest play of the game right there.”
It didn’t help Jacobs that Sidor went out of the game with a hip injury after rushing for 47 yards on 11 carries on only two possessions. All the other Jacobs running backs could gain just 52 yards for the remainder of the game, but the defense kept it close.
“We’ve come so far as a defense,” Mitz said.”We’ve got to keep on improving with those guys that are coming back, which we have a lot of them.”
Jacobs 10 0 0 0 -- 10
Boylan 0 14 7 7 -- 28
J – Greg Sidor 4 run (Matt Fahey kick) 7:19, 1st
J – FG Fahey 22 0:50, 1st
RB – Demarcus Vines 39 run (kick blocked) 9:38, 2nd
RB – Luke Salamone 34 pass from Brock Stull (Zack Matthews run) 6:42, 2nd
RB – Vines 75 punt return (Sean Slattery kick) 4:11, 3rd
RB – Matthews 2 run (Slattery kick) 2:15, 4th
Team Stats J RB
First downs 13 13
Comp.-att.-int. 11-24-2 10-15-1
Passing yards 140 142
Rushing att.-yards 38-97 38-172
Total yards 237 314
Fumbles-lost 3-1 4-0
Penalties 4-33 7-54
Jacobs – Sidor 11-47, Bret Mooney 5-10, Niko Petrone 4-16, Josh Walker 12-18, Connor Conzelman 4-18, Hunter Williams 1-1, Team 1-(minus) 17.
Boylan – Stull 11-80, Vines 18-68, Peter Cimino 2-3, Mathews 4-9, Danny Appino 2-3, Sean Slattery 1-7.
Jacobs – Mooney 11-24-2-140.
Boylan – Stull 10-15-1-142.
Jacobs – Hunter Williams 3-52, Jake Gierlak 4-52, Ryan Sargent 3-37, Walker 1-(minus) 1.
Boylan – Appino 5-71, Cimino 2-8, Andrew Bernsten 1-18, Salamone 2-45.