PLAINFIELD – Plainfield East and Plainfield South put on a show Friday night as 87 total points were scored via the pass, the ground, special teams and the defense. But in the end, it was a defensive stop by the Cougars on the 1-yard line with only 1:02 left to play that preserved a 45-42 victory.
After South’s Brian Stanton scored on a nine-yard run with 6:48 remaining to give the Cougars a 45-42 lead, East put together a a 69-yard drive and with 1:02 left a quarterback keeper by the Bengals Brett Winiecki was stopped short and the Cougars had the win.
“I wanted the ball in our best players hands and they stopped him,” East Coach Brad Kunz said. “Brett is awesome, and I think he is an All-State quarterback.”
All Winiecki did on the night was throw for 245 yards (21 of 23) with three touchdowns and one interception. For good measure, he also had 78 yards rushing.
The defensive touchdown came on a 70-yard fumble recovery and return by Dominic McDonough to give East a 28-21 lead early in the third quarter.
But South had more playmakers on this night as the sophomore Stanton also had a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to go along with 153 yards rushing on 17 carries.
“We are such a great second half team because I believe we train harder than anyone,” Stanton said. “Our offensive line was great tonight, and they deserve so much credit.”
In the first half, Plainfield East had 246 total yards to Plainfield South’s 68, yet the Bengals trailed 21-20 at the break.
South took advantage of two East turnovers and scored on short fields, on a 19-yard touch pass from Izaiah Huerta to Tyler Schultz and then on a 20-yard touchdown run by Stanton. Those TDs were after an 88-yard kickoff return by Christopher Garrett and after the Bengals second touchdown that gave them a 14-0 lead with 3:10 left in the first quarter.
“When I picked up the ball I saw a hole and just ran,” said Garrett, who also had a big interception. “In a night were the defense had a rough night they came up big when it mattered most.”
East took the opening kickoff 65 yards in 14 plays, as Taven Washington finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown run and the second touchdown came on a 21-yard pass from Brett Winiecki to Tyler Schultz that finished off a seven play, 44-yard drive.
After a Bengal interception by Michael Morgan to thwart a Cougar drive at the East five-yard line, April football was seen, as the Bengals went for it on fourth and two at their own 12-yard line.
“I have never been in such a high scoring game that was so back and forth as that one in over 20 years of coaching,” South coach Bill Bicker said. “We have so many great playmakers and that makes a big difference. Stanton is just a sophomore and our leader is Keith Bronson who is our workhorse.
“We have just one rule on this team and that is to be in the present on every play, and that is what we did on the defensive play at the end. I give so much credit to East and Coach Kunz. They played so well, and their quarterback [Winiecki] is an absolute warrior. But we spend 30 minutes of each practice on special teams and tonight it really paid off.”
“I love where we are at right now,” Kunz said. “We battle nonstop, and this is such a great group to coach. Plus we are trying to play everyone and that will help come next fall.”