Aerial attack : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Aerial attack |
|Oswego's West throws six TD passes as Panthers defeat Plainfield South|
|by Kristin Sharp|
The Oswego football team became playoff-eligible with its fifth win of the season last Friday and remained undefeated in Southwest Prairie Conference play to stay in the hunt for the league championship.
But all that mattered to the Panthers was that they were 1-0 after picking up a 54-32 win over Plainfield South at Ken Pickerill Stadium to improve to 5-2 overall and 5-0 in the SPC.
"We can never take this conference lightly. We have to practice hard every single week and be ready on Friday nights," Oswego senior quarterback Ryan West said.
Oswego will now travel to Plainfield Central on Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff against the Wildcats, which have struck together three consecutive wins and improved to 5-2 overall with a win over Plainfield East last Friday.
"We can't look past anything," Oswego head coach Dave Keely said. "We have Plainfield Central who is stringing together wins right and left. They're playing really well. They run the ball and we have to stop the run before we stop anything else. We have to stop the run and make them do some things they're not used to doing. Our mentality right now is 1-0"
But trying to get to 1-0 last Friday against Plainfield South wasn't easy in the first half. The Cougar defense held Oswego to three-and-out on the opening series before the Panthers strung together a seven-play, 90-yard touchdown drive.
West completed passes to senior Josh Mapalo, junior Elliot McGaughey and junior Mickeel Stewart to reach the Plainfield South 23 before Mapalo caught his fourth pass of the drive for an 11-yard touchdown with 6:48 to play in the first quarter. Senior Freddy Miller's extra point kick was good for a 7-0 game.
But 17 seconds later, Plainfield South senior Dantrell Wright raced 61 yards down the field for a touchdown to tie the score at 7.
"We were having some breakdowns and at halftime we had to go over what we were doing wrong and correct them," Oswego senior defensive lineman Luis Flores said. "They were trying to run double passes on us. We'd been practicing that all week and thought we had it covered, but sometimes we slipped up."
Oswego was held to three-and-out after three incomplete passes by West, who eventually finished 25 of 43 for 402 yards and six TDs. Oswego's next possession also stalled near midfield after three consecutive incomplete passes.
Plainfield South took its only lead of the game with 46 seconds left in the first half after senior quarterback Austin Howarth found senior Ryan Turk for a 32-yard touchdown pass and the Cougars took a 14-7 lead on sophomore Matthew Imbuyria's kick.
"We just weren't in sync," Keely said. "Guys were running routs and we weren't getting them the ball. We weren't coming up with the plays. We were out of sync, but once we got going we did alright. Offensively, we couldn't get rolling and get anything established with first downs. By the end of the first quarter, we were on the same page."
Oswego took possession at the end of the first quarter and West found Stewart for a 15-yard pass before McGaughey ran 9 yards and West's quarterback sneak resulted in fourth-and-1 at midfield. Mapalo ran the ball for the first down and with 10:54 to play in the first half, West hit Stewart for a 52-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.
"Once we got things going, I settled in and the offensive line settled in," West said.
And the defense settled in too. Junior Jack Kwiatkowski picked off Howarth's pass on the first play from scrimmage to put the Oswego offense back on the field at the Cougar 36. Three plays later, McGaughey caught a 22-yard touchdown pass, shaking off two defenders and racing into the end zone for a 21-14 lead with 9:42 on the clock.
Oswego added another score before halftime thanks to Stewart's 33-yard run to put the Panthers at the Cougar 12. Kwiatkowski caught a 12-yard pass from West in the end zone, but Miller's kick was blocked for a 27-14 score with 2:53 left in the first half.
But Plainfield South once again broke through the Oswego defense - this time on a 44-yard touchdown run by junior Jonathan Kosirog for a 27-20 score at halftime.
"We try to pride ourselves on not giving up the big scores and the first three were big. The pass and two runs, basically we didn't execute on defense," Keely said. "Compliment the defensive coaches; at halftime they made the corrections and the kids came out and played much better in the second half."
Plainfield South's two second-half touchdowns came on runs of 1 and 5 yards as the Oswego defensive unit contained the Cougars.
"It's like coach said, we're a second-half team," Flores said. "We're working real hard to put four quarters together."
Oswego used just one play to score on its first possession of the second half as Stewart took the handoff from West and raced 37 yards into the end zone. Miller's kick was good for a 34-20 score with 10:52 left in the third quarter.
Plainfield South answered on its next series, capping off an eight-play, 68-yard drive with Wright's 1-yard plunge, but Oswego blocked the extra point attempt for a 34-26 score.
Oswego and Plainfield South traded possessions before the Panthers created another scoring opportunity. West found junior Brett Wainwright wide open on third-and-10 before Kwiatkowski caught another West pass at the 7-yard line. On the next play, Stewart took the handoff and ran into the end zone for the touchdown to give Oswego a 40-26 lead with 3:09 left in the third quarter.
After the Oswego defense held the Cougars to three-and-out on two incomplete passes and a run for no gain, the Panthers marched to midfield to end the third quarter before West threw a long pass to Kwiatkowski, who caught the ball just outside of the goal line and ran in for the 36-yard touchdown. Miller's kick was good for a 47-26 score to start the fourth quarter.
Plainfield South took three minutes to orchestrate its final scoring drive - an eight -play, 65-yard drive capped off by Wright's 5-yard run. The extra point kick sailed wide left for a 47-32 score.
Wainwright returned the ensuing kickoff to the Oswego 36 and after a rough start to the drive, West ran into trouble. Facing two approaching Plainfield South defenders, West dumped the ball off to Stewart, who raced 17 yards for a first down with 6:56 to play.
Plainfield South made an illegal substitution to move Oswego into Cougar territory and after three runs by Stewart for a combined 9-yard gain, West threw his sixth TD pass of the game - this time a 38-yard reception by McGaughey with 4:50 remaining in the game.
McGaughey caught five passes for 92 yards, Stewart grabbed five passes for 104 yards and rushed for an additional 100 yards on 15 carries while Mapalo had seven catches for 56 yards and Kwiatkowski had five catches for 123 yards.
"I think we're a little more balanced now in the last three or four weeks," Keely said. "We have five or six different receivers we can throw the ball to. Mickeel can catch the ball out of the backfield; one touchdown he had was a seam rout right up the chute. Josh Mapalo can go in the backfield and block. Hopefully we can cause some problems for other teams because you take one person away and there's someone else that can do something."
Defensively, junior linebacker Chad Burdo had 10 tackles - two for a loss - while sophomore Bryce Holm had nine tackles and junior Christian Ornelas had seven tackles -one for a loss - and one sack. Junior Jamaal Richardson had two pass deflections in addition to five tackles.