Maine South used a ball control offense and dominated Palatine with a 28-14 victory in the Class 8A football semi-finals Saturday.
The 26th seeded Hawks (10-3) handed the third seeded Pirates (12-1) their first loss of the season.
It sets up, what could be a classic game in the finals against top-seeded Loyola Academy, as they earned they way to the finals with a 42-13 victory over Glenbard West.
The Class 8A finale is set for 7 pm, Saturday at Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus.
Maine South and Loyola met the second week of the season with Loyola getting a 44-43 win.
After holding Palatine to a three and out on the first possession of the game, Maine South’s senior quarterback Nick Leongas hit Matt Holbrook with a 40 yard touchdown pass to put the Hawks up 7-0 at the 9:27 mark in the first quarter.
With 6:06 left before half the Pirates signal caller DJ Angelaccio hit Johnny O’Shea with a four yard strike to tie the game at 7-7.
South answered right back with a drive that took 4:22 and culmited with Leongas hitting Luke Hinkamp with a 22 yard touchdown pass to put the Hawks up 14-7 with only 57 seconds left before the break.
Holbrook, a senior who plays both ways, then intercepted a Angelaccio pass to end the first half.
“This means everything to be playing for the state title,” Holbrook said. “This group of seniors have been together playing football for as long as I can remember, since like the sixth grade. I love being on the field for every play. My coaches have the trust in me to do the job.”
South dominated the third quarter, as it held the ball for almost nine minutes of the quarter, but as the fourth quarter started it was still 14-7.
But with 6:55 left in the game junior running back Fotis Kokosioulis scored on a five yard run to make it 21-7.
After an interception by South’s Matt Schneider on the first play after receiving the kickoff, Kokosioulis scored again on a six yard run to seal the game at 28-7. Palatine added a score with only 33 seconds remaining in the game.
“We worked so hard this off-season,” Kokosioulis said.”We used the loss to New Trier in week seven as motivation, that it wasn’t going to happen again. Maine South is back.”
Leongas finished the day with 100 yard rushing on 22 carries and was 8-of-16 for 112 yards. Kokosioulis added 81 rushing yards on 20 carries. The Hawks outgained the Pirates 183 to 40 yards on the ground.
“Our defense stepped up huge today,” Leongas said. “We went in at halftime and talked about controlling the ball in the second half, we knew with out offensive line we could wear them down and control the clock. It’s always been a goal to get to the final game and we are looking forward to playing Loyola again.”