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Iroquois, Perillo don't hold anything back in advancing to Class A semifinals

PENDLETON -- Much like his running style on the field, C.J. Perillo didn't hold anything back when he was asked how he felt following his team's playoff game at Tudor Stadium.

"I'm exhausted," the Iroquois senior said, "absolutely done. I need about six months recovery."

Perillo won't have that much time, as he'll have only six days.

He has only himself to blame for this good problem.

Behind Perillo's sixth 200-plus yard rushing effort of the season, the Chiefs not only lived to play another game in the Section VI Tournament they did so by taking out last year's Class A runner-up Starpoint, 34-21, Friday night.

A crowd of more than 2,000 watched Perillo take handoff after handoff, rushing an astounding 48 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on runs of 5, 4, and 5 yards after halftime. He rushed 24 times for 116 yards during the final 24 minutes as the third-seeded Chiefs ground out a victory over the No. 2 seed in a place where the Spartans rarely lose: Tudor Stadium.

The last time that happened, though, it came in the quarterfinals to Iroquois two years ago.

"Give them the credit. They kept the ball away from us," Starpoint coach Al Cavagnaro said. "I thought offensively we came in and played well. Defensively we just struggled. We didn't tackle well. We didn’t tackle well because they ran hard."

Perillo wasn't the only Chief to run hard as Mike King (six carries, 79 yards, one TD) and Spencer Slachetka (two carries, 24 yards, one TD) chipped into a rushing attack that accounted for 331 of the team's 464 total yards. But Perillo was a difference-maker whose relentless effort helped wear down the Spartans (6-2).

He carried eight times on Iroquois' nine-play drive in the second quarter that enabled the Chiefs (5-3) to tie the game. The only time he didn't rush the ball, it's because King ran a jet sweep 19 yards into the end zone.

Iroquois had a chance to break a 7-7 tie before halftime as it had a first and goal from the 2 with 2 seconds left. However, Justin Mott plugged the gap and stopped Perillo a yard short of the end zone.

The Chiefs shook off that potential downer of a play in a major way. They accounted for 21 of the 35 points scored by the teams in the third quarter.

Cody Collins (two interceptions) pounced on a fumbled kickoff near midfield to open the quarter, ultimately setting up the first of Perillo's TD runs.

Undaunted, Starpoint – behind Matt Spina (11 for 19, 213 yards, one TD, one interception) who filled in for injured starting quarterback Aaron Chase – wasted little time tying things. It took the Spartans just 19 seconds to strike as Spina hooked up on a 95-yard touchdown with Max Bowden.

After a Perillo 4-yard score, the Spartns responded again with Mott scoring on a 1-yard run. That drive featured some razzle dazzle as a 19-yard option pass from Joey Carlson to Spina. Carlson, who filled in briefly at quarterback after Spina absorbed a hard hit, added a 27-yard run on that series.

But the Chiefs took the lead for good with 2:02 left in the quarter on Slachetka's 16-yard TD run, a score set up a play earlier by Perillo's 48-yard catch and run on a third-and-17 play. Perillo added the final touchdown with 8:30 to go.

"It wasn't easy," first-year Iroquois coach Rob Pitzonka said. "I told (Perillo) I know I've got myself Secretariat in my backfield. I said I'm going to saddle you up and I'm riding you until the win or the loss."

It wound up being the former as the Chiefs return to action in the semifinals against Class A South Division rival West Seneca West (8-0). The top-seeded Indians of West Seneca West advanced with a 59-24 win over Sweet Home.

Will Perillo, who has rushed for roughly 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns, be ready for the contest?

"I'll spend some time in the ice bath," Perillo said.

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