PENDLETON – Iroquois didn't just have a workhorse lining up in its backfield Friday. It had what coach Rob Pitzonka called his version of "Secretariat" to gallop through holes.
Yet, C.J. Perillo didn't just leave tacklers in the dust. He dragged a few and bowled over some in delivering another post 200-yard rushing effort. That helped carry the third-seeded Chiefs past No. 2-seed Starpoint, 34-21, Friday night in a Section VI Class A quarterfinal at Tudor Stadium.
A crowd of more than 2,000 fans watched Perillo tote the ball an astounding 48 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns as Iroquois survived and advanced to the semifinal round of the tournament.
It's the second time in three seasons the Chiefs have met the Spartans in a quarterfinal at Tudor Stadium and it's the second time they have enjoyed the long bus ride back to Elma with a victory in hand.
"I told him I know I have myself Secretariat in my backfield, I'm going to saddle you up and ride you to a win or lose," Pitzonka said of Perillo.
The Chiefs rode him into the semifinals, where they will face No. 1 seed and fellow division rival West Seneca West.
Iroquois finished with 464 yards in total offense, with 331 coming on the ground.
Player of the game: Perillo, easy call. He scored on runs of 5, 4 and 5 yards in the second half after the teams battled to a 7-7 draw through 24 minutes.
Flood gates: After a tight first half, the teams combined for five touchdowns in the third quarter with the Chiefs taking the lead for good with 2 minutes, 2 seconds left on a 16-yard run by Spencer Slachetka.
That's one of the few times Perillo didn't carry the ball. He did gain 48 yards on the play prior – a screen pass on third-and-17.
Iroquois struck first after Cody Collins recovered a Spartans fumble on the kickoff. Perillo ran it in from the 5.
Starpoint wasted little time replying. Matt Spina (11 for 19, 213 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) may have been in the lineup filling in for injured starter Aaron Chase, but he made plays as if he were running the offense all season. He needed just one play to help the Spartans tie it up, hooking up on a 95-yard pass play with Max Bowden. That's two touchdowns in a span of 19 seconds by both teams.
It's a sign of things to come. The Chiefs took the lead on their next drive, with Perillo scoring on a 4-yard run. Starpoint responded again as Justin Mott scored on a 2-yard run with 4:30 left. That drive featured a razzle-dazzle play as a option pass from Joey Carlson to Spina gained 19 yards. Carlson followed with a 27-yard run.
First strike: Starpoint, which came into the contest missing several starters due to injury, milked the clock on its first possession, taking up nearly 6 minutes before capping it with a 1-yard touchdown run by Anthony Robinson. Robinson had 46 yard rushing on that 78-yard drive.
Running men: The Chiefs and Spartans both love to run, but Iroquois showed just how dedicated they are to it on their second drive which resulted in pay dirt. Iroquois ran eight times on nine plays, finishing the 54-yard drive with a 19-yard TD run by Mike King. That's the only rushing play Perillo didn't carry the ball.
Clutch stop: On the final play of the half from the 2, Iroquois handed off to Perillo hoping to take a lead into the intermission. But Mott plugged the hole and cut down the Chiefs' star runner a yard shy of the end zone.
Halftime stats: Iroquois had 165 with workhorse back Perillo accounting for 99 on an 24 carries. Starpoint had 125 yards with Robinson rushing 16 times for 84 yards.
Records: Starpoint is 6-2, Iroquois is 5-3.
Rankings: Starpoint came in ranked No. 7 in the News' large schools poll. Iroquois was unranked.
Next: Semifinals for Iroquois, the No. 3 seed out of the South Division against top seed West Seneca West.