MARENGO – Coal City’s spirits were high as kicker Brad Littleton’s 33-yard field goal sailed through the uprights midway through the third quarter.
The No. 15-seeded Coalers trailed powerful No. 2 Marengo by only four points despite the lopsided offensive numbers to that point.
“I was confident we could come back from that,” guard/defensive tackle Alec Leasure said. “I was confident we could put something together. We could have won this game.”
Marengo, however, had other plans. Its defense put up a wall, while the offense finished two more drives, giving the No. 2 Indians a 28-10 Class 4A playoff victory Friday night at Rod Poppe Fields.
The Indians (10-0) finished with 484 total yards while limiting the Coalers (5-5) to 138. Coal City managed only one first down in the second half.
“We come up to play a 9-0 team that had destroyed some people, and we hung in there,” Coalers coach Lenny Onsen said. “We gave up some big plays, which hurt. Our kids played extremely hard, on the road, and gave it their all for four quarters. We made it a game for quite a while.”
Marengo quarterback Zach Knobloch hit receiver Jarrell Jackson for an 80-yard score in the first quarter, then hit receiver Craiton Nice for another 80-yard touchdown two minutes later.
The Coalers’ defense stopped some drives in the middle quarters to keep it close.
“We played our best game,” Leasure said. “We put it together the best we could tonight. We came out 100 percent.”
Marengo’s defense was just too unyielding in the second half, while its offense eventually finished drives.
“You have to expect more [from your defense],” Onsen said. “To give up 28 points is too much. You expect to be better. Usually at this time, you say, ‘We have to work on it next week.’ Well, I guess we’re not working on it next week. That is always a tough time for the seniors.”