South Elgin stands tall, stops Oswego East
Usually it is the explosive offense that wins games for South Elgin. This season the Storm have a 45.7 margin of victory.
But it was the defense that made the big plays in the Storm's 35-8 Class 8A first round playoff win over Oswego East Saturday.
South Elgin's defense stopped the Wolves on five of their six trips inside the red zone, including two successful goal-line stands and recovered two fumbles that turned into Storm scores.
South Elgin (9-1) will play at Brother Rice (9-1), a 28-8 winner over Bartlett, next weekend.
The defensive unit was tested on Oswego East's first possession of the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Wolves quarterback Michael Ford (22 of 32 for 347 yards) connected with Keion Battle (8 receptions for 141 yards) for a 66-yard pass that put Oswego East at South Elgin's 3-yard line. The D-line held, stopping the Wolves at the 1-yard line.
"I thought our defensive play was outstanding, the entire game. They had a great 66-yard pass in the first part of the game, we came up with a big stop," said Storm coach Dragan Teonic. "I think we came up with four or five big stops in the red zone."
On the Storm's first play on the ensuing drive, quarterback Ben Karpowicz was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
Oswego East's next drive ended when Dylan Bernal recovered a fumble at the Wolves' 36-yard line and returned it 25 yards. Two plays later, Marquis Gillespie ran seven yards for the score to give South Elgin a 7-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Wolves got back in front on their first possession of the second quarter on 6-yard toss from Ford to Battle.
The lead was short-lived as South Elgin scored on it next drive on a 38-yard pass from Karpowicz to Calin Gurau.
The Storm scored their third TD of the first half after another Oswego East (5-5) turnover on a 5-yard run by Corve King.
The Wolves threatened again late in the second half. Facing fourth-and-goal, Ford completed a pass to Zoye Harden, who was stopped at the 1-yard line.
"We didn't play our best football where we needed to play our best football, in the red zone," Oswego East coach Tyson LeBlanc. "They were more physical than us. That was the issue in the red zone."
South Elgin led 21-8 at the intermission.
The Storm extended their lead to 28-8 in the third quarter. On a fourth down conversion attempted, Davion Cherwin ran 44 yards for a touchdown.
South Elgin's defenders turned Oswego East away again in the fourth quarter. A 36-yard pass from Ford to Jackson Allison gave Oswego East a first down at South Elgin's 1-yard line. The Wolves were unable to advance any closer to the end zone.
"Our motto is 9, 5, 9. We have nine dudes, five yards between the ball, 90 percent of the times," said senior defensive back Vince Clinite. "We exceeded that today."
An 8-yard pass from Karpowicz to Gurau in the fourth quarter completed South Elgin's scoring.
The Storm gained 238 yards on the ground, with Karpowicz rushing 15 times for 121 yards. Cherwin rushed for 48 yards. Karpowicz completed six of nine passes for 99 yards. King (3 receptions for 49 yards) and Gurau (2 for 46) were his favorite targets.