ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- Special teams were special for the Rock Island football team Friday night.
Because of that, Quincy High School must go into playoff mode a week before the postseason actually begins.
The Rocks returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the third quarter to continually keep the Blue Devils are arm's length and picked up a 35-19 Western Big Six Conference victory at Almquist Field.
"For sure, this is the biggest win we have had in a few years," Rock Island senior JŠKye Hill said. "We finished the job and made sure what we did counted."
It guaranteed a playoff spot for the Rocks (6-2, 5-1 WB6), while forcing the Blue Devils (4-4, 3-3 WB6) into a must-win situation when they host Moline next week in the regular-season finale.
"It's a playoff game now," Quincy coach Rick Little said. "We have to approach it that way."
A late Davion Wilson rushing TD gave the Rocks some breathing room, but it was kickoff returns by Perry Slater and Hill in the third quarter that gave the Rocks the victory when Quincy was manning its run.
"It's just tough to overcome," Little said. "It was kind of a breakdown in every area."
The Blue Devils trailed 14-7 at halftime, but senior quarterback Lucas Reis, the WB6's leading passer, returned after missing the first half because of a coaching decision and engineered a scoring drive, connecting with Scott Sprick on a 9-yard touchdown pass. The Rocks' Darrell Woodson, who blocked two field goals last week, blocked the extra point.
Quincy, trying to keep Rock Island's dangerous kick return group controlled, kicked short but Slater, the usual deep returner, came up and grabbed the ball and went 65 yards for a score.
"We saw (Quincy) in a bunch set up for the kick so we moved everyone up for a potential onside kick," Rock Island coach Ben Hammer said.
Said Slater. "I just got the ball and broke a couple tackles. It was a big play after they scored so quick in the second half."
Reis came right back with another drive, hitting all five of his passes, including a circus catch by Drake Tournear, who tipped the ball to himself for a 35-yard TD grab. Tournear finished the night with 11 receptions for 115 yards.
This time Quincy kicked deep and Hill bobbled it at the 3, then found a huge opening to his left and he raced 97 yards for another special teams score to put the Rocks up 28-19.
"I knew they might try to kick it deep once and I had to take advantage of my one chance," Hill said. "I saw just a few guys on that side of the field. I just had to fake them out and run by them."
Quincy drove again but this time the defense stepped up and forced a field goal try that was way off the mark. The Rocks also stopped two other Quincy drives on fourth-and-short runs that were stopped in the backfield.
"We had a lot of guys step up and do things really well," Hammer said. "Those two fourth down plays were huge. I think this was the most complete game we have played since the Metamora game."
The special teams woes ruined a solid defensive effort by the Blue Devils.
"The defense has really played well all season," Little said. "They bowed their necks a lot tonight and hung in there. We just didn't do enough in other areas. There were too many opportunities wasted."
Rock Island 35, Quincy 19
37-167 Rushes-yards 31-115
240 Passing yards 150
407 Total yards 265
21-35-2 Comp-Att-Int 13-21-1
3-1 Fumbles-lost 0-0
9-64 Fumbles-lost 7-51
Quincy 7 0 12 0--19
Rock Island 0 14 14 7--35
Q--Drake Tournear 6 pass from Blaine Wilson (Tournear kick), 4:03
RI--Perry Slater 31 pass from Devin Swift (Victor Guzman kick), 7:30
RI--Ja'Kye Hill 40 pass from Swift (Guzman kick), 1:00
Q--Scott Sprick 9 pass from Lucas Reis (kick blocked), 8:10
RI--Slater 65 kickoff return (Guzman kick), 7:56
Q--Tournear 35 pass from Reis (pass failed), 2:48
RI--Hill 97 kickoff return (Guzman kick), 2:30
RI--Davion Wilson 3 run (Guzman kick), 1:55
RUSHING--Quincy, Adonte Crider 14-88, Drae Humphrey 15-59, Reis 6-16, Wilson 2-4. Rock Island, Wilson 13-63, Marriyon Rogers 8-41, Eli Reese 1-12, Hill 2-11, Jaiden VanCoillie 1-0, Swift 5-(minus-12).
PASSING--Quincy, Reis 14-21-0-163, Wilson 7-14-20-77. Rock Island, Swift 11-17-0-141, Reese 2-4-1-9
RECEIVING--Quincy, Tournear 11-115, Sprick 4-60, Jack Rupert 3-42, Clay Hansen 1-21, Humphrey 1-2, Cole Parkhill 1-0. Rock Island, Slater 5-68, Marrieon Anderson 4-20, Hill 2-57, Wilson 1-4, Victor Guzman 1-1