By all accounts this IHSA Football Game should have been over early in the 3rd Quarter for the Plainfield South Cougars (2-1, 1-0) as their district rivals the Plainfield North Tigers (1-2, 0-1) had built a commanding 34-7 lead in this Southwest Prairie Conference opener for both. But never ever underestimate a game in which the participants have something of a history with each other. And that is definitely something these two have built over the years. So big games aren't anything new between them in the all important district rivals bragging rights game of the year.
But this high school football game was something of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde affair too as the Plainfield South Cougars looked as dazed and confused as they did the previous week when the Wheaton St. Francis Spartans (3-0, 1-0) just teed-off on them from the opening whistle as RB Robert Butler was running roughshod over them. So I hate to say it, but my prediction of a South loss (albeit not as close as the 26-19 affair I had thought) started looking eminent by halftime .
But Boy Was I Ever Wrong!
Somehow some of these Cougars don't like it when I predict a loss for them and revel in telling my son (their former teammate and graduate) that his old man should have had more faith in them. I don't know, perhaps it sounds strange to them since I've been known to bleed blue to pick another team over them. But I am just an observer these days and tend to look at the stats and trends before each game before letting the chips fall where they may when predicting an outcome.
Then again maybe it is my own little special whammy because if I pick against them - they win!
So not only does it give me great pleasure to post this post to proclaim that Plainfield South Overwhelms Plainfield North In OT but it is also an honor to tell this years' group of warriors that their 41-34 victory was nothing short of the best comeback game ever played on that Southside Football Field! Especially coming off that whipping of the week before.
Now if you recall in this week's preview I had said "if Plainfield South have any expectations of winning this contest then they better get back the intensity they displayed in Lemont. Otherwise there is a very talented team (who feels that they let a victory slip away in Pekin) ready to send their own version of a steamroller, RB Quinton Hoosman, into battle. And he is more than capable of running over a defenseman or two on the way to the house if they let him as well as another weapon they need to watch out for in speed-ball RB Robert Baker because he can tear up some very serious yardage down the sidelines after a large Offensive Line clears the way for him."
But, I also made it a point to say: "So whichever team shows up for Plainfield South will determine who wins in what looks like a last possession type of game."
And that is exactly the way it turned out folks!
Plainfield North's RB Quinton Hossman, though, would not be the one doing any steamrolling in this football game as he was forced out of the game early with an apparent injury to his side. Instead the speed-ball Senior RB Robert Baker (16/85 Yards) and Junior RB Chris Dunning (27/131 Yards) had to shoulder the load. And it appeared as if they had the mettle to overcome the loss of their teammate Hoosman.
Well, that is, until Cougars LB Clifton Garrett started doing what he is absolutely best at doing - which is stuffing the hole! And stuff it he did as the Tiger running game was literally shut down after 2-1/2 Quarters of very solid play. Baker, though, would also see limited action in the 2nd Half. That left the Cougars defense to only have to worry about shutting down the speedy Dunning the rest of the way so far as the Plainfield North ground game went.
And as if a light-switch were suddenly flipped-on by the Cougars 12th man (their Neon Night fans). Plainfield South Cougars Senior QB Kody Voda began looking like a surgeon as he engineered one scoring drive after another to bring his team back from the brink of the abyss to forge a 34-34 tie and a chance for an improbable come-from-behind victory. And the beauty of those drives was that QB Kody Voda did so using precision passes instead of his legs, even though he would pick up some very crucial yards in his 25 yard rushing total. But let's not forget a very feisty Offensive Line either as they gave Voda all the protection and time to get the job done.
So after the Cougars fell behind 34-7, Plainfield South QB Kody Voda would begin the comeback with a 75 Yard Scoring Drive that included 4 precision passes, with the last one being a superb 25 yard TD toss to RB Anthony Woods, to make the score 34-14. The Cougars, though, would have to punt two more times before the real fireworks began in earnest with a little over 10 minutes to play as they put together scoring drives of 54 and 56 yards to pull within 34-27.
Plainfield North, meanwhile, had been forced into one punt after another by a defense that suddenly resembled a steel curtain.
Plainfield South RB Anthony Woods, who started the comeback with his 25 Yard TD Catch, would now set up the Cougars for a chance to tie the contest after returning a Tiger Punt 23 yards down to the Plainfield North 17 yard-line. Then with about two minutes remaining, QB Kody Voda (19/30 189 Yards) found RB Joshua Harris (98 Yards Rushing / 70 Yards Receiving) in the end zone to make the score 34-33. PK Matthew Imburgia would go on to convert yet another crucial PAT to make it 34-34 with 1:42 to go in the game.
Plainfield North was shut down after the ensuing kickoff by an unyielding defense and the game's final act had been written as the fans in the stands could sense a memorable conclusion to the Neon Night festivities. Especially after the Cougars had won the coin toss and a chance to score first in the overtime period. With the electricity building in the stands, RB Joshua Harris ran the ball into the end zone on a short scamper. PK Matthew "the Iceman" Imburgia would again convert the PAT and the Cougars had their first lead of the night at 41-34.
Now it was up to the Plainfield South Cougars Defense to give its team the improbable come-from-behind victory. And as if this ending were written especially for a Cougars version of the famed Steel Curtain they did not disappoint. Tigers RB Chris Dunning was stopped short of the endzone after two successive runs put the ball on the five yard line. It was now 3rd Down and Goal To Go but as Plainfield North QB Dilibe Ekowa dropped backed and attempt a pass into the endzone it was quickly batted down by Cougars LB Mason Matesevic.
It was now 4th and Goal To Go! The Game came down to one last play and as Dilibe Ekowa dropped back he threw the ball into the endzone once again. However, Plainfield South DB Zachary Tuzak was right there to intercept him for the second time of the night.
And This Game Was Over!
The Plainfield South Cougars had done what no other team had done before it had done and that was to overcame a 24 point deficit for a win. And I have to tell you something folks, this team really showed its heart and soul this night! Their never say die attitude on the sidelines kept them where they needed to be when the game was on the line. They bent but didn't break and I believe it is because this season's Cougars are a close knit bunch.
And if they maintain this level of focus and intensity then this is a team that can win this conference.
And they control their own destiny as the next game will another big test. They must now go on the road to face an Oswego East Wolves (3-0, 1-0) team that is starting to gel and believe in themselves under Head Coach Tyson LeBlanc. The Wolves are now off to their best start ever in school history at 3-0 start after defeating the Plainfield East Bengals (2-1, 0-1) 14-7 in another Southwest Prairie Conference overtime thriller.
In the meanwhile, the Plainfield Cougars Cougars have shown themselves what they are capable of -
and all I can say to them is to just keep bringing it!
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Tags: Anthony Woods, Chris Dunning, Clifton Garrett, Dilibe Ekowa, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Football, High School Football, High School Sports, IHSA, IHSA Football, Joshua Harris, Kody Voda, Mason Matesevic, Matthew Imburgia, Neon Night, Oswego East Head Coach Tyson LeBlanc, Oswego East High School, Oswego East Wolves, Plainfield East Bengals, Plainfield East High School, Plainfield North High School, Plainfield North QB Dilibe Ekowa, Plainfield North RB Chris Dunning, Plainfield North RB Quinton Hossman, Plainfield North RB Robert Baker, Plainfield North Tigers, Plainfield South Cougars, Plainfield South DB Zachary Tuzak, Plainfield South High School, Plainfield South LB Clifton Garrett, Plainfield South LB Mason Matesevic, Plainfield South Overwhelms Plainfield North In OT, Plainfield South PK Matthew Imburgia, Plainfield South QB Kody Voda, Plainfield South RB Anthony Woods, Plainfield South RB Joshua Harris, Prairie State Prep Sports, Quinton Hossman, Robert Baker, Robert Butler, Southwest Prairie Conference, Sports, Steel Curtain, Tyson LeBlanc, Wheaton St. Francis Spartans, Wheaton St. Francis Spartans RB Robert Butler, Zachary Tuzak