HARVARD – Harvard’s players were almost as amazed as they were thrilled about what transpired against Chicago King on Friday night.
Some struggled for words to describe the Class 4A second-round playoff game that quickly became a runaway.
“I didn’t know what to think of it, actually. … There’s really not a word to describe it, actually,” Hornets defensive end Zach Martin said.
“I can’t explain it,” nose tackle Adam Freimund said. “It was pretty special. It doesn’t happen very often in a game. It was nice.”
Harvard scored on three of its first four plays, capitalized on three King fumbles and had a 35-point lead only 6:30 into the game at Dan Horne Field. Harvard coach Tim Haak played his second-team offense the entire second half as the Hornets rolled to a 56-16 victory.
No. 2-seeded Harvard (11-0) set the school record for victories and will face either No. 6 Rockford Lutheran (9-1) or No. 14 Rochelle (6-4) in next week’s quarterfinals. Those teams play at 1 p.m. Saturday in their second-round game.
Running back Christian Kramer raced around left end for 58 yards on Harvard’s first play. King quarterback Nate Powell missed a handoff with running back Lance Robinson and Martin pounced on it.
Running back Jose Mejia ran for 7 yards, then Kramer scored from 19.
The dizzying pace continued when King fumbled on its third play in the next drive and Freimund recovered. Quarterback Peyton Schneider hit Justin Nolen for a 30-yard score. Freimund recovered another fumble and Harvard took over on the 15, then scored in four plays.
“It’s unexpected at this point of the season, but we worked for it and we got the results,” said Nolen, who caught a 42-yard scoring strike from Schneider with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter.
By the time King’s band arrived late in the first quarter, the No. 7 Jaguars (8-3) were done.
“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for us,” King coach Lonnie Williams said. “Three minutes into the game we were down, 21-0, and the game was over. They beat us in the line, they beat us everywhere. They were a better team than us. I give them all the credit. We were honored to be here.”
It was King’s first trip ever to the second round and Williams said the Jaguars, who usually play on synthetic turf fields, had the wrong footwear for a slick, muddy field.
Harvard did not give King any chance to utilize its speed on offense or defense. When the Jaguars did score in the second half, the touchdowns came against the Hornets’ second-team defense.
“I thought the offensive line would take care of things, but the defense getting the ball and we scored right off that was big,” Harvard coach Tim Haak said. “I was pleased with those things early on and pleased we could get our No. 2s in. Our kids were consistent and ready to play.”
Nolen, who also intercepted a pass from Powell and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown, credited the coaches for their scouting report.
“We did whatever the coaches told us to,” he said. “We prepared and all week we were scheming and trying to stop their quarterback from scrambling, trying to get a picket fence up back there.”
The Jaguars managed only 78 yards at halftime, 38 of which came when Powell got loose on a scramble.
“We just read an article where their coach feels their quarterback is a D-I kid and thinks he can play on Sundays,” Haak said. “Our kids did a great job against him. We put some things in. I say this a lot, but our offensive line coach Dennis Eisele and defensive coordinator Todd Streit do a great job of scheming. Our kids were really well-prepared.”