Palatine came up just a bit short in their hopes to qualify for the Class 8A semifinals, losing to Loyola 19-7 Saturday in Wilmette.
“We just didn’t execute,” Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly said. “Give them credit.”
Palatine (10-2) was just moments away from receiving the opening kickoff when the lightening detector sounded, delaying kickoff for nearly 90 minutes.
Then, when played resumed, on the Pirates first play from scrimmage, Loyola deflected a pass and intercepted the ball at the Palatine 23-yard line.
The Palatine defense, led by Jesse Bobbit, Cam Kuska, Thomas McHugh, Dan Riddle, John Serio, Luke Rago and Josh Baldus, came up big, limiting the Ramblers to just a field goal.
As good as Palatine’s defense was all game. Loyola’s was just a step better. Palatine’s high-powered offense, which had been averaging over 44 points per game, was short circuited by a stout Loyola defense, which came up with four interceptions and a season-low 180 yards of total offense.
“We were off offensively a lot,” Donnelly said. “They are the first team that has been able to do that to us for four quarters. We didn’t have the flow on offense we normally do”
Palatine moved into the Ramblers’ territory twice in the first half, only to be intercepted on one of those occasions. The Pirates had a chance to tie the game early in the second quarter, but Kevin Hilmer’s 51-yard field goal sailed just wide.
Loyola (11-1) was able to take a 10-0 halftime following the Rambler’s third interception of the half.
Thanks to a pair of 15-yard penalties against Palatine, Loyola Academy was able to drive the 48 yards for a touchdown.
Palatine came out refocused in the second half. After a defensive stop, Kuksa fielded a low line drive punt and broke it 48 yards for a touchdown to pull the Pirates to within three at 10-7.
“I thought no one would be down there quick enough, so I got and ran,” Kuksa said. “I got a lot of blocking and then made one guy miss.”
But Loyola came back on its next possession and drove 80 yards in 11 plays to make it 16-7 with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
Loyola had a chance to increase its lead late in the third quarter when the Ramblers lined up for a 29-yard field goal. Palatine’s Dan Riddle had other ideas, blasting in from the right side to block the kick and keep the Pirate’s hopes alive.
The Pirates took possession and drove to their own 40. Facing a fourth and two early in the fourth quarter, Donnelly gambled, but Serio’s jump pass was knocked down. Loyola went on to kick another field goal to close out the scoring and put an end to Palatine’s magical season.
“We were driving and flying to the ball and making all the tackles,” Serio said. “They got some plays on us when we weren’t ready. “
The Palatine seniors end their career as two-time MSL West champions. They suffered four losses, two of which came in the playoffs
“It was a lot of fun,” Bobbit said. “There is nothing like playing your whole life with your buddies. We fought out there.”
“We knew we had to leave it all on the field,” Riddle said. “And I thought we did.”
Donnelly was thrilled by the performance of his seniors these past two seasons.
“They were unbelievable,” Donnelly said. “It was a special group. A special group that you get once in a long, long time.
"There was a bond. You see how tough they are,” he said.
Jessie Bobbit was incorrectly identified in a previous version of this article. Patch regrets the error.