PALMER’S HOUSE

Se­nior DB re­turns fum­ble for TD to spark Lin­coln-Way East

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Steve Mil­lar

Se­nior de­fen­sive back Kenny Palmer sparked a 13-sec­ond surge at the end of the first half Satur­day that per­fectly summed up how dom­i­nant Lin­coln-Way East was again­stGlen­bardWest.

Palmer re­turned a fum­ble 70 yards for a touch­down as the vis­it­ing Griffins scored14­points in the 13-sec­ond span to pull away for a 45-0 win in a Class 8A sec­ond-round play­off game.

Lin­coln-Way East (11-0) will take on West Au­rora or Ed­wardsville in nex­tweek’s quar­ter­fi­nals.

Down 24-0, Glen­bard West (8-3) had put to­gether its best drive of the game be­fore Dy­lan Shel­ton forced a fum­ble. Palmer re­cov­ered and dashed 70 yards for the TD with 18 sec­onds left in the half.

“I had to make sure I had the ball, and once I did, I just kept think­ing to my­self, ‘Don’t get caught,’ ” Palmer said. “It was non­stop adren­a­line, and as soon as I hit the end zone, it­was in­sane.”

Glen­bardWest mis­han­dled the en­su­ing kick­off and the Griffins re­cov­ered. On the next play, A.J. Hen­ning ran for a 29-yard TD to make it a 38-0 half­time lead.

“We talk about try­ing to get of­fense, de­fense and spe­cial teams all play­ing at an elite level, try­ing to get to that magic place,” East coach Rob Zvonar said. “For a while at the end of the first half,

we got there, and it­was a lot of fun.”

Devon Wil­liams ran for 146 yards and three TDs for East, while Jack Baltz com­pleted 8 of 15 passes for 115 yards, in­clud­ing a 28-yard TD pass to Jack­son Rit­ter.

Hen­ning said the ex­cla­ma­tion point the Griffins de­liv­ered at the end of the half sent a mes­sage.

“We’re never go­ing to set­tle or set a limit for our­selves,” Hen­ning said. “We’re go­ing to keep work­ing to be the best we can be and get bet­ter every day. I thinkwe showed thatwe keep im­prov­ing.”

Lin­coln-Way East led 3-0 af­ter the first quar­ter be­fore ex­plod­ing for 35 points in the sec­ond against a Glen­bard West de­fense that en­tered al­low­ing 13 points per game.

Wil­liams ran for a pair of TDs in the quar­ter.

“Ev­ery­thing was just to­gether,” Wil­liams said. “Our of­fen­sive line, re­ceivers, quar­ter­back, run­ning backs, we were all on. De­fense and spe­cial teams were on too. We just came out and did our thing.

“We ex­pected to get a lot from (Glen­bardWest) in this game. We got a lot, but we ob­vi­ously showed that we can be bet­ter.”

The Griffins out­gained Glen­bard West 308-140.

“This just shows what we can do,” Palmer said. “It shows our of­fense is great, our de­fense is great, and we’re just an all-around phe­nom­e­nal team.”

JON CUN­NING­HAM/DAILY SOUTH­TOWN

Lin­coln-Way East quar­ter­back Jack Baltz starts to pass against Glen­bardWest on Satur­day.

JON CUN­NING­HAM/DAILY SOUTH­TOWN

Lin­coln-Way East’s Devon Wil­liams (21) side­steps Glen­bardWest’s Ni­cholas Seifert on his way to a touch­down on Satur­day.

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