The Griffins of Lincoln-Way East in Frankfort traveled yesterday to Naperville, where they met the Neuqua Valley Wildcats in round 2 of the Illinois High School Association Class 8A football playoffs. East won 17-14, going to 11-0 on the season.
The field is one of a few grass fields left at suburban high schools, and the weather was a factor, bringing continuous 20-mph gusts down the long axis of the field.
Both teams scored a touchdown with long passes on their first drives, but the game featured fewer offensive drives and more defensive walls after that.
The game ended on a failed onside kick attempt by 17th-seed Neuqua Valley. With just 51 seconds left, the Wildcats scored a touchdown to bring them within 3 and then attempted the onside kick, which was, unfortunately for the home team, recovered by top-seeded Lincoln-Way East at their own 42.
Summary of Offensive Drives
(1) NV, own 20 (touchback)
A 46-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-12 play capped the drive, putting the Wildcats up 6-0. The point-after-touchdown kick was good. 8:26 remaining in the 1st quarter.
(2) LWE, own 28
A roughing-the-passer penalty reversed a failed third-down conversion, giving the Griffins another opportunity to keep the drive alive, which they did. A 50-yard touchdown pass on a 2nd-and-5 play capped the drive. The point-after-touchdown kick was good, tying the game at 7 with 5:45 remaining in the 1st quarter.
(3) NV, own 25
3-and-out, punt. The punt was kicked into a strong headwind and netted only 2 yards after being blown backwards in mid-air.
(4) LWE, from the NV 36
3-and-out, punt. 1:41 remaining in the 1st quarter.
(5) NV, own 13
After the Wildcats got one first down, East called two successive time-outs at the end of the quarter to keep the wind against Neuqua Valley. The drive ended with a Wildcat punt from their own 27.
(6) LWE, own 45
Eating up almost half the 2nd quarter, the Griffins drove to a 4th-and-2 play at the Neuqua Valley 20. They decided to go for it on 4th down and rushed for 13 yards to the 7 for a 1st down. A successful 26-yard field goal (the ball was spotted on the 9) capped the drive, putting East up 10-7 with 6:22 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
(7) NV, own 23
Strong passing against one of the most formidable run defenses in the state brought the Wildcats to the East 27-yard line. An encroachment penalty put the ball on the 22, where a second field goal attempt was blocked at the line of scrimmage. 3:09 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
(8) LWE on downs, own 20
(9) NV, at midfield
3-and-out, punt. 2:11 remaining in the half.
(10) LWE, own 20 (touchback)
The 1st half ended during this drive. Lincoln-Way East is set to receive the ball to start the 2nd half.
(11) LWE, own 30
3-and-out, punt (into the wind) downed.
(12) NV, own 44
An offensive holding penalty wiped out a run that would have given the Wildcats a 1st down and kept the drive moving. A subsequent sack led to a 3rd-and-16 play, which called for a pass and led to an interception by the Griffins, the game’s only turnover.
(13) LWE, own 36 (after interception)
A 3rd-and-1 rushing play from Neuqua Valley’s 10-yard line resulted in a Griffin touchdown with 5:23 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The point-after-touchdown kick was good, putting East up 17-7.
(14) NV, own 24
A well-executed, 42-yard flea-flicker pass brought the Wildcats to the East 32-yard line and gave them a 1st-and-10. A few more successful passes brought the game to the end of the third quarter, and Neuqua Valley had to move to the other side of the field and face a tough defense and a strong wind.
A 26-yard quarterback keeper on a 3rd-and-28 play from the 31 brought the Wildcats to within 5 yards of the end zone. The forward progress stalled at that point, leading to a critical decision to go for it on 4th-and-2. The passing attempt was blocked at the line of scrimmage.
(15) LWE on downs, own 5
An offensive holding penalty wiped out a run that would have given the Griffins a 1st down, and an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-4 led to a punt from the 40.
(16) NV, own 20 (touchback)
After a quarterback keeper, the player slid down to indicate a stoppage of play. Although a helmet-to-helmet hit was audible, the camera angle did not allow me to see the contact after the player slid. Neuqua Valley’s quarterback was, however, injured on the play and required the concussion protocol. He left the game.
There was no flag after the hit, but officials threw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Neuqua Valley, apparently based on their protests over the non-call on what may have been a helmet-to-helmet hit on their sliding quarterback. The drive ended in a Wildcat punt from their own 5-yard line.
(17) LWE, from the NV 39
3-and-out, punt. 2:04 remaining in the game.
(18) NV, own 15
A 58-yard pass brought the Wildcats to the East 10-yard line, but East’s defense pushed the ball back to the 27-yard line, where a 3rd-and-goal pass play netted a Wildcat touchdown with 51 seconds remaining in the game. The point-after-touchdown kick was good, making the score Lincoln-Way East 17, Neuqua Valley 14. An onside kick was expected.
(19) LWE, own 42
Lincoln-Way East recovered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock. The game ended during this drive.