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Lake Forest's Oliver Babnik (32) runs through open space during an IHSA Class 6A a quarterfinal game in Niles, Ill. on Friday, November 9, 2012. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
A little bit of the familiar and a little something new proved to be a winning combination for Lake Forest Friday night.
The Scouts had another night of big plays from their defense and got instant results from a trick play put in this week as they knocked off Notre Dame 31-19 in a Class 6A quarterfinal in Niles.
Lake Forest (9-3) advances to the IHSA semifinals for the first time since 1978 and will play next week against the winner of Saturday’s Cary-Grove/Crystal Lake Central game. The No. 23 Dons (7-5) were seeking its first semifinal berth since going to the Class 5A title game in 1989.
Trent Williams had three sacks and recovered a fumble for Lake Forest, while Geno Quaid intercepted two passes.
Andrew Clifford passed for 162 yards, 152 of them in the first half, and two touchdowns to Nick Giordano. Stephen Cirame ran for 115 yards and two scores for the Scouts, who opened a 21-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
“The up-tempo offense was something that helped us out a lot,” Clifford said. “We got to the ball quick, we echoed our calls and we got them tired quick in the first half.”
And, as usual, Clifford and the offense got some help from the defense. Williams’ fumble recovery at the Notre Dame 12 to set up Lake Forest’s first score, a one-yard run by Cirame with 2:48 left in the first quarter.
“Almost every week people ask me about the defense and I just tell them that they make plays when it matters the most in the game,” Clifford said. “It’s crazy how well they can shift momentum for our team and get us the ball back and get us ina position to score.”
Chris James, Notre Dame’s workhorse back, scored from two yards out with 11:27 left in the second quarter to make it 7-6. But Lake Forest came right back with Clifford’s 61-yard touchdown pass to Giordano at 10:20.
“We have some decent players who have some skill,” Lake Forest coach Chuck Spagnoli said. “[If] they get the ball in their hands and they get vertical, it obviously makes it difficult on a defense.”
Another Clifford-to-Giordano touchdown pass, this time for six yards,made it 21-6 at 6:02 of the second quarter. Notre Dame pulled within 21-13 at halftime on Dan Nagode’s 31-yard scoring pass to Billy Hirsch 12 seconds before halftime. Nagode finished 14-of-30 for 178 yards with two interceptions.
Lake Forest’s offense stalled early in the second half, but came to life on a 38-yard option pass from Regis Durbin to Jack Troller late in the third quarter. That set up Baylor Broughton’s 27-yard field goal, which pushed the lead to 24-13.
“That’s kind of a new thing,” Clifford said of the halfback pass. “We put it in [this week] and it worked great.”
Notre Dame got within 24-19 on a two-yard TD run by James (37 carries, 163 yards) with 2:37 left. But Lake Forest iced it when Cirame raced 55 yards down the left sideline to score with 1:36 remaining.