Football: Joliet West falls short vs. L-W East 35-28
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org October 5, 2013 10:18PM
Paul Gossage (2) of Lincoln-Way East angles away from Joliet West defender Navontae Battle (15) on his way to scoring a touchdown. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 6, 2013 11:14AM
There was no good answer to Jason Aubry’s dilemma.
“Our coaches were discussing what to say to the kids,” the Joliet West coach said Saturday afternoon after his team came oh-so-close to a major upset before falling to SouthWest Suburban Blue heavyweight Lincoln-Way East 35-28. “A moral victory — is that what we call this? Or do we just come right out and say we should have won the game?”
East coach Rob Zvonar said it for him.
“What a great game, great effort by Joliet West,” he said. “Coach Aubry’s group outplayed us and deserved to win. Even at the end, we really didn’t stop them.
“We’re happy to be getting on the bus 5-2 rather than 4-1.”
East, which was coming off a 24-21 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor, battled with a collective heavy heart as the mother of senior running back Malik Carter passed away Friday. Carter played and came up huge.
On the last play before lightning struck with 7:25 remaining, causing a 90-minute delay, East’s Deji Olaleye intercepted a pass at midfield and returned it to the West 27. On the first play of the restart, Carter burst through the middle for the touchdown run that finally provided the Griffins (5-1, 3-1), who had trailed 21-14 early in the third quarter, breathing room at 35-21. Carter finished with 100 yards in 20 carries.
But the two-touchdown cushion did not last because the Tigers (2-4 0-4) were in it for the long haul. They drove 70 in six plays, scoring on Jordan Brown’s 22-yard scamper, to get within 35-28. East made one first down before having to punt, and West started its two-minute drill at its 10-yard line with 2:31 left.
Eleven plays later, the Tigers were at the East 25, facing fourth-and-6. Quarterback Anthony DiNardo threw while running left to escape pressure, and Ronald Banner could not quite hold on. With 0:17 to go, West’s bid for one of its biggest victories in a long, long time had ended.
“If we scored to make it 35-34, we were going for two,” Aubry said. “We were planning to win the game. Unfortunately we didn’t get it done.”
“They put all they had into it,” East standout center and three-year starter Nick Allegretti said. “They knew they had more talent this year, and I think they’re playing with more heart.”
In addition to his 22-yard touchdown run, Brown scored on runs of 2 and 49 yards and lost another touchdown from 38 yards out on a holding penalty. He finished with 129 yards in 20 carries, and DiNardo completed 22-of-31 for 239 and a touchdown to Niko Messino. Banner caught 10 passes for 60, Messino four for 67 and Christian Griswald four for 53.
Quarterback Jordan Wirtz was a key for the Griffins. He completed 11-of-18 passes for 107 yards and three touchdowns, two to Paul Gossage, and ran 12 times for 60 yards and a score.