By Bobby Leach
For the Bugle
The Plainfield South Cougars opened their season with a convincing 29-6 win over Southwest Prairie Conference foe Romeoville in front of their home fans who had much to cheer about as the 2017 season got underway.
South (1-0) jumped out to a 15-0 lead behind a stiff defensive performance and took advantage of three special team errors by the Romeoville (0-1) punt team.
The Cougars got on the board with an 81-yard punt return from senior defensive back Sayvaun Roberts with 15 seconds left in the first quarter taking a 6-0 lead after a failed extra point attempt.
Romeoville was forced to punt yet again only four plays later from their own 15-yard line which was blocked and covered in the end zone by senior defensive lineman Zack Panozzo for a 12-0 lead after a second failed extra point kick by South.
A second blocked Spartan punt led to a 25-yard field goal from South’s senior Zachary Sutphin with 4 seconds left in the half.
The Cougar defense held Romeoville to 27-yards of offense and a single first down in the opening half. “We kept the pressure on up front with our defensive line.” South coach Bill Bicker said after the game. “I think we accomplished what we wanted to on defense and simply wore them down all night.”
In the second half, junior quarterback Cody Dieball ripped off large chunks of yardage on the ground rushing for a game high 111-yards on 17 carries and a 2-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. Dieball threw only four passes on the night completing 2 for 26-yards. “He played within himself and didn’t make mistakes” said Bicker. “We wore them down in the first half and he was able to find a few running lanes which kept the clock running.”
The Spartans lone bright spot came late in the fourth on their final possession when senior quarterback Cam Neely found senior receiver Chris Kerwin on a 22-yard strike in the corner of the end zone to end South’s shutout bid 29-6. Neely was sacked five times finishing the night 8 of 20 for 108 yards, 1 TD and no interceptions.
“We struggled a bit to get going tonight but I thought we did a decent job defensively” Said Spartan coach Oliver Gibson after the loss. “Our punt team put us in a hole tonight but we will get back after it this week in practice and focus on next week.