AURORA – Having suffered a tough loss in Week 1 to Rich Central, Plainfield East carried a little momentum into its game against West Aurora after its offense finally started to hit its stride last week in the fourth quarter.
The momentum did not last long, however, as the Bengals fell to the Blackhawks, 35-14, in nonconference play Friday night.
The first two possessions set the tone for the game, as East (0-2) mishandled a handoff for a fumble and then fumbled on a punt return.
“Sloppy football. It was sloppy football,” Bengals coach Mike Romeli said. “It’s hard to win games when you don’t execute. It’s not a lack of effort, we just need to focus more.”
Despite the mistakes and an unsuccessful fake punt, East’s defense was able to hold its own as West Aurora drove deep into Bengals’ territory but was unable to score any points.
“Our defense is good,” Romeli said. “In the first half our defense had such short fields and by the time they get a breath, they’re in the end zone.”
The Bengals’ defense began to crack in the second quarter as Blackhawks running back Daquan Cross (10 carries, 71 yards) reached the end zone twice on 15-yard runs. Cross’ second touchdown came with 52 seconds left in the half, giving West Aurora energy going into halftime.
Things continued to decline for the East in the third quarter as it had another punt blocked and the Blackhawks were able to capitalize to make it 21-0.
On the following series, East running back Jeremy Reitz (17 rushes, 172 yards) jump-started the Bengals’ offense with a 47-yard run on the first play of the drive. On the next play, quarterback Matthew Mazurkiewicz (12 of 19 passing, 73 yards) hit Jacob Barlev (two catches, 35 yards) for a 28-yard touchdown to make it 21-7.
On the kickoff, Camron Donatlan dashed any hope of a Bengals comeback with a 70-yard return to put West Aurora on the East 8-yard line. Two plays later, the score was 28-7.
“I got to fix it,” Romeli said. “We have to stop our special teams blunders. That’s what is killing us.”
East got on the board one more time on a 27-yard run by Valentino Rivers account for the final score.
Next week, East will host District 202 rival Plainfield South.
“We have to continue to improve and continue to get better. It’s going to be a battle and hopefully we can make enough plays next week.”