Lincoln-Way West stuns Kaneland

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Lincoln-Way West has arrived.

Led by the explosive plays of Lavonte Blackful, and a swarming defense, the Warriors jumped out to a huge lead and knocked off top-seeded Kaneland 31-15 in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs on Saturday afternoon in New Lenox.

Quarterback Justin Keuch added a pair of touchdown passes as West (8-3) won its fifth straight game and will host Joliet Catholic, a 42-21 winner over Tinley Park, in the quarterfinals next Saturday. It will be the first ever quarterfinal appearance for the Warriors, who are in their fourth season. The Knights, who lost in the semifinals the previous two seasons, end at 10-1.

“No one scares us,” Blackful said. “This is a pretty big win, but now it’s over. We have to get focused for next week.”

Blackful, a senior who transferred from Bloom before the start of the season, gave the Warriors a 14-0 lead when he took a direct snap and scored on a 26-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-6 play out of the Wildcat formation with 7:47 left in the second quarter.

“There was just perfect blocking up front,” Blackful said of the play. “We used that in practice this week and it worked there too.”

Joe Leo kicked a 27-yard field goal to put the Warriors ahead 17-0 at half. Blackful, who had three punt returns for a total of 65 yards, returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 57 yards. That helped set up Keuch’s second touchdown pass of the day, a 10-yarder to Jake Robbins for a 24-0 lead. Keuch got West on the board with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Nick Andrade midway through the first quarter.

“We’ve been working hard and the coaches put us in the right spot,” said Keuch, who was 10-of-19 for 102 yards. “I’m very confident with our team. We just have to take it game by game.”

With 2:24 left in the third quarter, Blackful who finished with four carries for 112 yards and added an interception return for 46 yards, raced down the right sideline for an 82-yard touchdown run and a 31-0 Warrior lead.

“I can’t say enough about our team,” Blackful said. “ This is the best O-line I’ve played with. I just get the easy job of running where they lead me. And on defense we bring 11 guys to the ball on every play.”

Javier Montalvo added 20 carries for 86 yards as West had a total yardage advantage of 319-to-191. The Warrior defense, led by Keegan McShane, Josh Hilt, and Nick DeAngelis sacked quarterback Drew David (9-of-29, 84 yards) seven times and intercepted him three times.

Kaneland, which turned the ball over four times, scored twice in the final 2:06. Backup quarterback Tyler Carlson connected with Zack Martinelli on a nine-yard touchdown, and Carlson had a four-yard keeper to round out the scoring.

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