Photo: Knight Zack Martinelli (11) was integral on offense and special teams in the astounding 49-38 comeback win over DeKalb on Friday. Photo by John DiDonna
Knights overcome 17-point second-half deficit in Barb-land
by Mike Slodki
DEKALB, Ill.—DeKalb Barbs football, as exhibited by the first playoff run since 1989 a season ago, is much improved.
As exhibited by a prolific first half and a 31-14 lead in the third quarter, the program can be downright daunting for opposing teams.
It would take a special comeback to sting the Barbs, and on Friday the 6-0 (2-0 NIB-12) Knights had it in them.
Five touchdowns, culminating in a 23-yard Jesse Balluff touchdown run with seven minutes, 15 seconds to go in the game, gave the Knights the lead for good in a 49-38 win in the brand new facilities of DeKalb High School.
DeKalb fell to 3-3 (0-2 NIB-12) with the loss.
A 24-point second quarter for the Barbs was capped by two-way player Brian Sisler’s 52-yard interception return with 14 seconds to go in the half for a 24-14 lead.
In the third quarter, Sisler snuck the ball in from the three to maintain a 31-14 lead with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter.
“We started to get glassy eyes, but we knew the seniors had to step up with the big play,” KHS secondary member Jake Razo said. “We have a young team, and Brian Sisler is great for DeKalb. We knew we could come back.”
Drew David (17-of-24, 295 yards, 3 TD) found Zack Martinelli with 6:32 remaining in the third on a 23-yard scoring pass to make it 31-21, and the next drive had Quinn Buschbacher scoring on a 26-yard TD pass with 3:25 to go to close within 31-28.
The fourth quarter started dubiously for Kaneland as DeKalb running back Dylan Hottsmith floated a halfback option touchdown pass to Mike Olson with 11:07 remaining in the game for a 38-28 lead.
Kaneland came back with a six-play drive, and David found Sean Carter on a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 38-35.
Forcing a punt brought KHS back in business, and Buschbacher caught a pass for a 32-yard gain, only to fumble. Kyle Pollastrini was there for the fortunate recovery. Balluff then found paydirt with 7:15 to go.
After another forced punt, Kaneland put the exclamation point on the night, as Balluff scampered for a 27-yard TD run with 5:04 to play.
“Something we told the guys in the locker room at halftime was forget about the mistakes,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “We can come back, and this says a lot about guys like Drew and Jesse, who kept it together.”
The sophomores trounced DeKalb, 41-0.
The next challenge for the Knights is Friday, Oct. 7, against 4-2 Yorkville. Peterson Field will also be the site for a Pink Out, with players brandishing pink colors to create awareness of the fight against breast cancer.