Breaking It Down: One of the goals Oswego football coach Brian Cooney set for the Panthers’ defense was to show improvement in the red zone. Now, Cooney can check that item off his to-do list.
Oswego twice stopped Plainfield North from scoring after the Tigers moved to first-and-goal inside the 10 in the second half of a 28-21 victory in the opening round of the Class 7A playoffs on Friday night at Ken Pickerall Stadium in Oswego. Included was a dramatic goal-line stand in the final 45 seconds that enabled the Panthers (9-1) to notch their eighth straight victory.
Plainfield North closed to within 28-21 on Kurt Palendach’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Brock Thoms with 1:10 left. North’s Brett Fox recovered the onside kick. And the Tigers moved to a first-and-goal at the 5 on Palendach’s 30-yard pass to Matt Welch.
Oswego’s red-zone defense stiffened. On fourth-down, Elliot McGaughy blanketed Thoms on the right edge as the two crossed the goal line. Thoms lunged to haul in Palendach’s pass but was ruled out of bounds. The Panthers took over with 14.3 seconds remaining and ran out the clock.
Patch’s MVP: Jack Kwiatkowski, 6-3, 190, senior, wide receiver, Oswego. Kwiatkowski finished with five catches for 84 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on a passes of 11, 17 and 10 yards from Brett Wainwright. Kwiatkowski also blocked a punt to shift momentum and set up the Panthers’ first score.
Plainfield North Stat Pack: Kyle Palendach (10-for-29 passing, 220 yards, 2 touchdowns), Brock Thoms (3 catches, 60 yards, 1 touchdown), Matt Welch (6 catches, 123 yards, 1 touchdown), Jay Roberts (15 carries, 93 yards rushing, 1 touchdown; 2 catches 37 yards).
Oswego Stat Pack: Jack Kwiatkowski (5 catches, 84 yards, 3 TDs), Mickeel Stewart (18 carries, 119 yards, 1 touchdown), Brett Wainwright (8-for-15 passing, 93 yards, 3 TDs).
Quotable I: “Our kids never gave up—just like they never gave up all year,” Plainfield North coach Tim Kane said. “We talk about it all the time—keep hammering, keep battling. And they did it. We had so much adversity, some of it self-inflicted and some of it not self-inflicted. But it doesn’t matter. Our kids never gave up. They never quit. I’m so proud of them.”
Quotable II: “I saw it as complete,” Kane said of Thoms’ attempt to haul in a potential-game tying touchdown pass in the final seconds. “His feet were in. He dives down and makes a great catch.”
Quotable III: “I played the best defense I could,” Oswego’s Elliot McGaughy said. “And it was no catch. I didn’t think he (Thoms) caught the ball. But I guess he caught it out of bounds. Hey, a win is a win.”
Quotable IV: “The touchdown passes,” Oswego’s Jack Kwiatkowski said of his favorite big plays for the Panthers. “But, of course, a blocked punt is big momentum. Team offense, special teams. I’m just doing my job out there.”
Quotable V: “One of the goals we set for the defense this year was to improve in the red zone, improve in the area we’re standing in right now,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said. “And how ironic that it comes down to your playoff lives and they step up.”
Team Records: Oswego is 9-1. Plainfield North finishes 7-3.
What’s Next: Oswego moves on to face Benet Academy in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs on Nov. 2 or Nov. 3. Benet defeated Andrew 24-10.
Scores of Interest: Benet Academy 24, Andrew 10; Downers Grove North 38, Batavia 26; Lincoln-Way East 47, Plainfield Central 22; Providence Catholic 44, Bradley-Bourbonnais 7. For more scores, go to IHSA ScoreZone.