It wasn't so much a matter of how often the Jacobs offense turned the ball over in a 14-7 loss at Lincoln-Way West Saturday, it was more a matter of where those miscues took place.
The Golden Eagles won the turnover battle 4-2 as junior nose guard Aidan Sproule recovered 3 second-half fumbles, but it wasn't enough to offset a Jacobs first-half fumble and fourth-quarter interception, both of which occurred in the red zone.
Jacobs (6-4) gained one last chance after the defense forced a punt with 2:24 to play. Quarterback Anthony Wilson drove his team up the field from the Golden Eagles' 11-yard line via a combination of scrambles and short passes.
His final pass, a 4-yarder to tight end Riley Anderson over the middle, put Jacobs at the Lincoln-Way West 29-yard line with eight seconds left but Jacobs had no timeouts left. The clock expired before Wilson and the Golden Eagles could take a shot at the end zone.
"Defensively, we got those turnovers and we started to move the ball a little bit better offensively," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "It was just one of those things where we didn't have enough time on the clock there at the end."
No. 12 Lincoln-Way West (8-2) took a 14-0, second-quarter lead on the second of 2 short touchdown runs by sophomore running back Caleb Marconi, who carried 14 times for 114 yards.
In between those Marconi touchdowns, No. 21 Jacobs (6-4) drove 77 yards in 11 plays. That effort was thwarted when the Warriors forced a fumble at the 3-yard line from Jacobs running back Loren Strickland, who has been playing with a cast on his fractured left hand for the last 4 weeks. He finished with 114 yards on 19 carries.
The Warriors subsequently drove 97 yards in 13 plays and took a 14-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
The Golden Eagles played with more energy in the second half and capitalized on the second of Marconi's 3 second-half fumbles. They drove 60 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 10-yard run by Strickland to pull within a touchdown with 9:17 left in the game.
"I was really happy we came out and fought," said Jacobs offensive tackle Jimmy Wormsley, a four-year varsity performer. "We went to the locker room during halftime and we just talked, a little bit of yelling. We got the guys fired up because we came out a little flat in the first half."
The Golden Eagles got the ball back 3 plays later when Sproule recovered yet another fumble.
"I'm not going to take any credit. I recovered the ball," Sproule said. "My teammates set me up for everything. Our team, we brought it together in the second half."
However, Jacobs couldn't cash in. Senior Caleb Walker's short catch on fourth down gave his team first-and-goal at the 5, but a holding penalty pushed the Golden Eagles back to the 16. On third-and-long, Wilson threw into the end zone and was intercepted by senior Anthony Lullo.
"Four three-year starters on that side of the ball and nine seniors," Lincoln-Way West coach Dave Ernst said of his defense. "What they've done with just the attitude and everything else with everyone on the defense is fantastic. They play hard."
Lincoln-Way West advances to the second round to play No. 28 Alton (6-4).
"It's tough, especially after all we've been through as a team, this grade especially," Wormsley said. "We've been really close, probably since elementary school so it's really tough."