By Brendan Cadman
For the Bugle
On a wet and windy Friday night, Romeoville played rude house guests as the Spartans secured their first victory of the season with a, 14-12, win over Plainfield East on the Bengals’ homecoming night.
“It really wasn’t a huge win for the program, it was a huge win for those kids that came all summer,” Romeoville head coach Oliver Gibson praised. “They really deserved that win and I hope this makes them realize that it’s not how you start something, it’s how you finish it.”
In a first half that was dominated by the unfavorable conditions and stingy defense, Romeoville (1-6) and Plainfield East (1-6) both had a hard time finding any sort of offensive rhythm throughout the first two quarters. Up until Plainfield running back, Nicholas Pratscher’s, 57-yard run with just over two minutes remaining in the first half, neither team legitimately threatened to break the scoreless deadlock.
Having seemingly converted on the rare red zone opportunity with a 13-yard touchdown run, the Bengals’ score was wiped out by a costly holding penalty. Eventually Plainfield had to settle for a, 3-0, halftime lead thanks to Justin Ayres’ 22-yard field goal.
Out of the break, the Spartan defense came up with a huge interception to kill a promising Bengal drive to open the half. Thanks to the big defensive play, the Romeoville offense was able to capitalize on the momentum shift and drive 70-yards for a score. A pair of long plays by running back Daytwone Burge and receiver Chris Kerwin, helped set up Spartan quarterback, Cam Neely’s, two-yard touchdown run to take a 7-3 lead with five minutes left in the third.
Plainfield immediately responded to the Romeoville score, with a 59-yard catch-and-run by receiver Billy Pierce and eventual three-yard touchdown run by Elijah Hickman. Within a matter of seconds the Bengals had re-taken a, 9-7, lead over the Spartans.
However, the Romeoville defense once again came up with a game changing play in the opening stages of the fourth and final quarter.
After a calamitous series of events by the Spartan offense that ended in a fumble giving Plainfield the ball at midfield, Spartan corner back Sir Muhammad returned an interception 57-yards for the score and, 14-9, lead.
“I’m so proud of our defense and the continuous pressure that they put on Plainfield’s offense all night,” Gibson sang. “I’ve been on the other end of this situation many times before, so we’re not getting carried away. We know they made some mistakes, but we just have to use this performance to get some consistency over these next two weeks.”
Plainfield was able to cut the score to, 14-12, with just over three minutes left in the game with another Ayres 22-yard field goal. However, with just one minute to go, Ayres’ potentially game winning 35-yard field goal fell short and the Spartans were able to ice the game away for their first win of the season.
“We’re not thinking of ending the season just yet,” Gibson said. “We got to the point where we were losing games big and losing players to injuries. Now we’ve got two games left, with all hands on deck, and that’s all that we are focusing on right now.”
The Romeoville Spartans will look to keep winning next Friday night, when they return home to face Plainfield Central. While the Plainfield East Bengals will hope to bounce back from the sobering homecoming defeat on the road at Plainfield North.