Lincoln-Way East offense struggles against Glenbard West
By Pat DisabATO email@example.com November 24, 2012 8:50PM
Lincoln-Way East's Justin Corbett looks back as he runs in the team's only touchdown against Glenbard West. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 26, 2012 6:29AM
CHAMPAIGN — On most occasions, an eight-point performance would produce some criticism at the offense.
But while Lincoln-Way East’s game plan, which consisted of 54 rushes and 14 pass attempts, could be questioned for imbalance Saturday, Glenbard West’s defense was the main reason for the Griffins’ ineffectiveness.
East, ranked No. 1, had scored 398 points heading into the Class 7A state championship at Memorial Stadium and hadn’t scored fewer than 20 points in a game all season.
In fact, East had topped 40 points on five occasions and only one team — Class 5A champion Montini — had come within single digits of the Griffins (20-14).
But Glenbard West’s defense had allowed just 109 points, a testament to its stinginess.
The Griffins came up six yards short from completing a comeback, falling 10-8 to Glenbard West.
“It was more about what Glenbard West did right than what we did wrong,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. “They have tremendous team speed all over the place. They’re fast and they fly all over on defense.”
Trailing 10-6 and faced with a fourth-and-10 from the Hilltoppers 13-yard line, East quarterback Tom Fuessel (21 carries, 17 yards), with nary a receiver open, elected to scramble.
The 6-foot-3 senior with 4.3 speed needed to get to the three for a first down. Even better, an additional three yards on top of that would get Fuessel in the end zone.
It appeared he would get one or the other as he darted across field and toward the right side of the end zone.
But Glenbard West’s Hayden Carlson made a crushing tackle on Fuessel at the six, ending the drive and pretty much any hope of a comeback win with 1:50 remaining.
“I thought he was going to get the first down or maybe score,” Zvonar said. “That was a heck of a tackle.”
Glenbard West’s punter ran out of the end zone for a safety with 23 seconds left, making the score 10-8, and giving East one last chance.
But to no avail.
“I don’t really remember that a lot,” Fuessel said of the tackle that kept him on the carpet for a time. “We knew it was going to be a physical game.”
The Griffins amassed just 44 total yards of offense on 29 plays during the first 24 minutes.
Fuessel, who had rushed for 1,502 yards entering the game, recorded negative four yards on 11 carries.
The uncharacteristic performance by East’s offense amounted to a 10-0 deficit at the half. Hardly insurmountable.
While the Griffins (13-1) did perform better in the second half, even finding the end zone, their bid for a second state championship fell short.
East won the Class 8A title in 2005.
The Griffins actually outgained the Hilltoppers (14-0) 197-195.
However, East’s inability to establish a passing attack, finishing 3-of-14 for 51 yards, allowed Glenbard West to focus its attention on stopping the run.
While East did a nice job moving the ball in between the 20-yard lines, it struggled in the red zone.
“We were a run-first team this year,” Zvonar said. “I thought the play-calling was tremendous. We just came up short.”