By Scott Taylor
Trailing 24-10 in the fourth quarter and with an inexperienced offense, it would have been easy for Plainfield East to throw in the towel.
That wasn’t the case though as Troy Mayon ran for a touchdown to cut the lead to seven and then the defense forced a punt and gave the ball back to the offense.
Matt Mazurkiewicz then found Dylan Koch for a 19-yard touchdown to make it 24-23 with 1:21 left.
However, the extra point bounced off the upright, leaving the Bengals behind.
The ensuing onside kick was well placed, but East was unable to hold on to the ball as it trickled out of bounds.
Still, the Bengals had all three timeouts left and after a three-and-out, still had a minute and 70 yards to navigate to win.
After a pair of completions, a sack and fumble was recovered by Rich Central at its 30-yard-line, preserving the 24-23 win.
“We fought hard and fought back,” East coach Mike Romeli said. “We almost tied it up. We missed the extra point, but the kicker came back and made a great onside kick. We had four hands on it. It just comes down to the lack of playmaking tonight. Guys were missing reads and not making plays when opportunities were presented. We played tough. There were some good things, but there are definitely some things to work on.”
With all of the inexperience, East will have to quickly figure things out going forward.
“We have to learn on the fly,” Romeli said. “Our sophomore team had two wins last year and one win as freshmen. We need to teach them how to win and do the little things right. There are some good players and talent, they just need to turn it our. Our seniors who didn’t start last year, they need to make plays.”
The Bengals will now travel to West Aurora, which is also searching for a win after a 24-10 loss to Geneva.
“Next week is very important,” Romeli said. “Like we’ve always talked about, we have to take it one game at a time. We need to go 1-0 next week and that is all we are worried about.”
The Blackhawks went 4-5 last year, but gave the Bengals a great game at Plainfield East.
“West Aurora is good. They have a couple Division-I coaches. We beat them 13-6 last year and they stalled at the 5-yard-line. They are a formidable opponent. We have to make some corrections this week. Sometimes things are easier to correct when you win, but we were close. We’re going to make sure we see how close we were to winning.”