Crossing paths : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Crossing paths |
|Oswego defense shuts down Oswego East in crosstown meeting, 48-10|
|by Kristin Sharp|
The District 308 football teams now boast identical overall records after their meeting in Week 5, but their paths could not have been more different to reaching a 3-2 mark through the first half of the season.
Last Friday, Oswego hosted Oswego East in front of a sold out crowd at Ken Pickerill Stadium and the Panthers rolled to a dominating 48-10 victory over the Wolves to improve to 3-0 in Southwest Prairie Conference action while Oswego East falls to 1-2.
Oswego rode a wave of momentum into the home contest after lopsided wins over Minooka and Romeoville to allow the Panthers to rally back from an 0-2 start to the season.
Oswego is now 9-0 against Oswego East and turns its focus to Friday's home game against Plainfield East (4-1, 2-1 SPC) at 7 p.m.
"Starting 0-2 was definitely a stress on our team. Without a doubt," Oswego head coach Brian Cooney said. "We asked the kids to buy into some changes and they did. We're seeing the benefits. They're playing well."
Oswego East will try to shake off a two-game skid on Saturday at Plainfield Central to face the winless Wildcats, which will celebrate Homecoming with a 1 p.m. kickoff. The Wolves have been without its top two running backs in senior Branden Lowe, who suffered a concussion in Week 3, and junior Khalil Driver, who left early in the Week 4 game against Plainfield South. Neither was dressed to play against Oswego, and the Wolves' offense certainly felt their absence on the field.
Oswego sophomore quarterback Steven Frank completed 10 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns while the Panther defense made four interceptions.
"We knew they wanted to run the ball, so we really focused on trying to take that away and let the sophomore beat us, and hat's off to him because he did," Oswego East head coach Tyson LeBlanc said of Frank. "For whatever reason, we haven't found our groove offensively. We've got some guys injured that we'll get back next week, but until we can eliminate the turnovers and the penalties, it's going to be tough.
"We're not giving up," LeBlanc added. "We're not folding the tent. It's a long season and we still have four games left. Last time I checked, we still have a winning record. Our goal is still to make the playoffs and that's what we're still striving for."
Oswego East was the first to reach the scoreboard, taking the opening kickoff to its own 18 yard line before junior quarterback Tyler Kennedy found junior receiver Trevor Kalish for a 66-yard pass completion before Oswego senior Tyler Walsh made the touchdown-saving tackle at the 16.
After a short 3-yard gain and an incomplete pass, junior Austin Butts appeared to rope in a touchdown pass, but a penalty called the play back to give the Wolves a fourth-and-long situation. Senior Jason Evans was called onto the field for the field goal, which was good with 10:42 to play to put Oswego East on the scoreboard, 3-0.
Oswego was held to three-and-out on its first possession of the game, but its offense didn't spend much time on the sideline as Oswego senior Tucker Vann intercepted Kennedy at the Panthers' 24-yard line with 8:18 to play in the first quarter.
That turnover set up Oswego's first scoring drive of the game to give the Panthers a 6-3 lead with 3:08 on the clock. Walsh carried the ball five times to help Oswego reach midfield before Frank found West for a 31-yard gain to the Oswego East 3. On his third attempt to cross the goal line, senior Bryce Holm scored from the 1-yard line.
"It was a shaky first half, but we picked it up," Frank said of the offense. "We prepared for a totally different defense, a cover 2. We saw they were running cover 1 and man, so we started to throw a little back side.
Oswego East ran a trick play on the ensuing kickoff, but the plan backfired when Oswego senior Jamon Rose tackled Evans, who was trying to pass the ball on the return. The hit forced a fumble, which was recovered by Oswego junior Mason Memming and set up the Panthers' next score.
Starting at the Oswego East 5, Frank ran around the left end of the Wolves' defensive line and scored the Panthers' second touchdown in a 15-second span. Oswego's pass attempt for the two-point conversion failed, and the Panthers led 12-3.
Oswego expanded its lead early in the second quarter on Oswego East's fourth turnover of the game. Oswego senior Charlie Jakubowski made his first of two interceptions in the game with 8:00 left in the first half to set up Oswego at its own 46-yard line.
Oswego was unable to move the chains during the series and punted the ball to Oswego East, but the ball was fumbled on a fair catch and Oswego set up at the Oswego East 19-yard line. Frank covered the distance in a single pass to junior tight end Christian Brown, and senior Jason Kaney's extra point kick was good for a 19-3 score.
"With all the preparation we've had and all the film work we've had watching them, you start to pick up some tendencies with quarterbacks and receivers and that definitely helped," Jakubowski said.
Nally had a strong return on the ensuing kickoff into Oswego territory, but a quarterback sack by Holm gave Oswego East a second-and-17 situation and the Wolves could not recover. The Panthers maintained their 16-point lead at halftime.
The Wolves' defense made a stop on the first drive of the second half that included solid pass coverage by Oswego East senior CeCe Schaeffer, but Oswego East was unable to gain momentum on the offensive end. Jakubowski made his second interception of the game and returned the ball to the end zone for the 27-yard touchdown off the turnover.
Oswego faked the punt attempt and Jakubowski threw to Brown in the end zone for the successful two-point conversion and a 27-3 lead with 10:22 to play in the third quarter.
"The defense has been solid. We have to find a way to help out our defense," LeBlanc said.
The teams exchanged possessions until late in the third quarter when Frank found West for a 31-yard touchdown score with 5:31 on the clock. The drive was set up by two good runs from Walsh, and Kaney's kick was good for the 34-3 lead.
After the Oswego defense held the Wolves to three-and-out, Walsh roped in a Frank pass for a 7-yard gain before an impressive 49-yard pass play from Frank to Walsh to the Oswego East 35. After a run for no gain, Frank connected with senior Trevor Matczak in the end zone. The extra point kick by Kaney was good for a 41-3 score late in the third quarter.
"We prepared very well this week for their offense. We know they always have weapons - they always do - and I think our defense prepared very well for them," Jakubowski said. "We shut their main guys down and did what we had to do, played sound, assignment defense. We communicated very well today."
Oswego put together its final scoring drive over the last minute of the quarter, moving the ball 80 yards in 57 seconds capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Frank to Holm. Kaney's kick was good for a 48-3 score to start the fourth quarter with a running clock.
Nally returned the kickoff and Oswego East put together its first touchdown drive of the game. A successful pass from Kennedy to Nally put the Panthers at midfield. The Wolves received a first down at the Panthers' 35-yard line after a roughing the passer penalty, and Butts rushed for a first down to the Oswego 18. Kennedy's quarterback keeper put the Wolves at the 3-yard line, and after a loss of 1-yard, Kennedy eventually scored from the 4-yard line. Evans' kick was good for the 48-3 final score.
"Special teams played a huge part and we were able to capitalize on some fumbles they gave us and some fumbles we caused," Cooney said. "I'm extremely proud of the defense. Ten or less is one of our goals every week and for the first time we were able to hit that goal. I'm proud of that. Offensively, we put the ball in through the air. I wish we could run the ball a little more, but that's a credit to coach (Dan) Dunbar at East. He had those boys ready to take away the run. Fortunately we have Steven on our team."