Running the clock : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Running the clock|
|Six Geneva turnovers lead to big win for Oswego football|
|by Kristin Sharp|
The final play before halftime almost seemed surreal.
Geneva drove the ball 69 yards down its brand-new artificial turf at Burgess Field last Friday and were poised at the Oswego 1-yard line just seconds before the end of the second quarter.
Instead of driving into the end zone, the Vikings committed their sixth turnover of the first half. Oswego senior cornerback Jamaal Richardson picked up the loose ball at the 2-yard line and drove 98 yards in the opposite direction to give the Panthers a 47-7 lead.
With a running clock throughout the second half, Oswego ran to a 47-21 victory to award Brian Cooney his first victory as head coach - a celebration complete with a Gatorade shower in the closing seconds of the game.
"We just love coach Cooney. Seeing that smile on his face at the end of the game really brought a smile to all of us," Oswego senior receiver/quarterback Brett Wainwright said.
Oswego took the opening kickoff in the 2012 season opener, but freshman starting quarterback Steven Frank was sacked on third-and-11, forcing the Panthers to punt. Geneva responded with a six-play, 68-yard drive that ended with senior running back Bobby Hess' 3-yard touchdown run. Kevin Dunlop's extra point kick was good for a 7-0 Viking lead with 7:59 to play in the first quarter.
From there, Oswego put up 47 unanswered points.
Oswego senior Mickeel Stewart (14 carries, 81 yards) broke through the Geneva defense for a 25-yard gain on second down and junior Bryce Holm gained another 24 yards to put Oswego at the Geneva 5. Stewart put the Panthers on the scoreboard on the next play before junior Jason Kaney's kick was good for a 7-7 game.
"We didn't want to be up 7-0 to begin with and our first offensive drive didn't go the way we wanted it to," Cooney said. "We persevered and I'm proud of the kids."
Geneva's offense and special teams began to unravel.
The Vikings fumbled on second down, Richardson recovered and returned the ball to the Geneva end zone with 4:57 left in the first quarter. A Viking penalty gave the Panthers an opportunity for a two-point conversion, but Stewart was stopped short of the goal line.
Geneva took the ensuing kickoff and moved the ball to midfield before fumbling the ball a second time in the game.
Oswego capitalized to start the second quarter. With Wainwright now under center, Geneva was called for roughing the passer and Oswego moved to the Geneva 36.
Wainwright closed out the drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to senior Jack Kwiatkowski, but the two-point conversion failed to put Oswego ahead 19-7 with 10:53 to play in the second quarter.
"Last year being a receiver, I know where the routes are going to be and we have a good connection," Wainwright said. "It's exciting when you score like that; it's awesome.
"I couldn't have done it without my line. They played awesome tonight," Wainwright added.
Wainwright remained as quarterback for much of the game, with Frank returning late in the fourth quarter. He finished with three completions for 60 yards and three touchdowns and carried the ball five times for 27 yards.
"He stepped in. We can do multiple things and Steven got the first couple snaps of the game, and coach (Marc) Kersting called a great game as our offensive coordinator. He decided to put Brett in because he can do some different things. The game kept going and we kept seeing success," Cooney said.
Oswego's offense had little time to rest as Geneva fumbled the kickoff return and senior Alain Dixon recovered the ball at the Geneva 22.
The Panthers eventually scored off the turnover as junior Tyler Walsh dove in from the 1-yard line with 7:29 to play. Kaney's kick was good for a 26-7 lead.
Geneva was held to three-and-out, and the snap to sophomore quarterback/punter Daniel Santacaterina went over his head and back into the hands of Oswego, which took possession at the Geneva 28.
"My only problem was putting the football on the ground," Geneva head coach Rob Wicinski said. "Oswego is a good team, but we can't play against ourselves too; we can't play against two opponents. Fundamental football: hold onto the ball. We didn't do it.
"More power to the coach; that's awesome getting his first win like that. It's really exciting and his kids were excited. I hope he continues to get a lot more," Wicinski added.
Four plays later, the Panthers were celebrating another touchdown - this time an 11-yard pass from Wainwright to Kwiatkowski.
Geneva fumbled its second kickoff return and Oswego recovered at the Viking 28. A 14-yard gain by Stewart helped set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Wainwright to senior Elliot McGaughy with 3:18 remaining in the first half. Kaney's kick put the Panthers ahead 40-7.
Geneva took the next 3:00 off the clock, driving to the Oswego 1-yard line before Richardson's long-distance fumble recovery.
"We saw them come out in the beginning and they looked a little nervous, but they came out hot," Richardson said. "We adjusted and after that the defense turned up and we got after it.
"Jordan Smith cracked (Geneva's ball carrier) and I got a big smile on my face seeing the ball. I was thinking touchdown the whole way," Richardson continued.
With a running clock in the second half, Geneva mustered two touchdowns in the third quarter to leave the Oswego defense shy of its Week 1 goal.
"We were hoping to keep them under 10 points or less and that didn't happen, but to get to a running clock and skate through the game is the best feeling for us starters," Richardson said. "I hope we can do it again next week."
The third quarter was highlighted by Oswego junior linebacker Peter Laughlin's mid-air tackle, which knocked the ball out of Geneva senior wide receiver Kevin Curtain's hands for the Vikings' seventh turnover of the game.
"From day one we changed the concept of our defense - all 11 to the ball," Cooney said. "We're proud of the kids for getting after it."
Oswego will host Waubonsie Valley - a 34-14 winner over Naperville Central last Friday - in a 7 p.m. non-conference battle at Ken Pickerill Stadium. The Panthers are 0-3 against the Warriors since 2009.
"Waubonsie is going to bring their best," Cooney said. "We need to shore up some things and get after it."