PLAINFIELD – After suffering a tough loss last week, what better way to put it behind you than to spoil your next week opponent’s homecoming?
That is what the Plainfield North football team did as it overcame two double-digit deficits and scored the last 21 points en route to a 31-20 Southwest Prairie Conference victory Friday over host Plainfield East.
“That was a tough loss last week to (Plainfield) South. Even though they are our rival, we just didn’t play inspired football and play well,” North coach Tim Kane said. “I was really proud of our kids tonight. We had a great week of practice. We overcame the early adversity and won. It was a great win.”
The Tigers were led by senior quarterback JD Ekowa, who accounted for three touchdowns and 160 total yards (11 of 22 passing, 89 yards, one touchdown; 12 rushes, 71 yards, two touchdowns), junior running back Tyler Hoosman (17 for 10, touchdown) and senior receiver Zach Jarosz (two catches, 18 yards, touchdown).
Senior quarterback Matt Mazurkiewicz hit 13 of 21 passes for 140 yards, and senior defensive back TJ Alexander returned an interception for touchdown for the Bengals.
North had 341 yards of total offense to 229 for East. The Tigers committed one turnover while North’s defense forced two.
“JD (Ekowa) had a couple of big runs and picked up some big first downs,” Kane said.” I’m just so proud of him. He was so hungry all week of practice that I was hoping that he would play well tonight, and he did.”
North (3-2, 2-1) was impressive on the opening drive as it put together a 16-play, 73-yard march that culminated with a 24-yard field goal by Connor Peplow for a 3-0 lead.
East responded on its opening possession. Seven plays later, Mazurkiewicz connected with junior running back Valentino Rivera for a 26-yard touchdown that gave the Bengals a 7-3 lead late in the quarter.
On the first play of North’s second possession, Ekowa was intercepted by East’s Alexander, who returned it 30 yards for a score that extended the Bengals’ lead to 14-3.
“Our kids stayed with it, and it was early in the game as I told the kids it is a four-quarter game not one quarter,” Kane said. “I told them just to relax and keep playing.”
Ekowa bounced back from the pick-six to lead the Tigers on an eight-play, 61-yard drive that culminated in an 11-yard TD pass to Jarosz on a fourth-and-10 play to cut the deficit to 14-10 with 9:47 left in the half.
East (1-4, 1-2) extended its lead to 20-10 on a 1-yard plunge by Mazurkiewicz with 8:26 left in the third quarter. North then took over on both sides of the ball. Ekowa’s 13-yard touchdown run cut the East lead to 20-17 with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
Then the Tigers’ defense made an impact as Johnny Goodson forced a turnover deep inside Bengals territory. Two plays later, Hoosman scored on a 3-yard run to give the Tigers the lead for good, 24-20, with 8:58 remaining. Ekowa’s 2-yard touchdown run made it 31-20 and put the game out of reach.
“We had a lack of focus in the second half,” East Mike Romeli said. “We had penalties, dropped passes, a big turnover. Whatever could go wrong, happened. We played a good first half, but basically it was a tale of two halves.”
North won the sophomore game, 41-21.