YORKVILLE – Anthony Wilson more than seized his opportunity.
The Plainfield North punt returner ended the Tigers’ third-quarter scoreless deadlock against Yorkville.
Wilson broke free down the right sideline for a 55-yard touchdown return, and the Tigers would add three more scores in a short span, beating the Foxes, 27-0, in the Southwest Prairie Conference on Friday night in Yorkville in the regular-season finale.
“Special teams have been a big key all year,” Wilson said. “We have been playing games, scoring on kick returns, punt returns. My coaches said that if you see that lane, pick it up and take it to the crib. That’s exactly what I did. I was waiting for it all night.”
The Wilson return, with 8:32 remaining, opened the floodgates for the Tigers (4-2, 3-1) in all three phases of the game.
Two possessions later, Tigers’ punter Kanon Woodill pinned Yorkville at its own 2-yard line with a 47-yard masterpiece.
“We have a great kicker, NIU-bound,” said Plainfield North coach Anthony Imbordino of Woodill.
Mathew Maldonado had rescued Yorkville more than once earlier in the game with his powerful right leg, but Plainfield North soon was back in business after taking over at the Foxes’ 36-yard line after a three-and-out.
Jared Gumila, who had been bottled up all night by the Foxes’ defense, finally found daylight off right tackle.
Gumila had the longest run from scrimmage the entire game with the 36-yard burst on first down. The Tigers suddenly had a two-score lead (13-0).
“We wanted to play to our strengths,” Imbordino said. “We play field position and good defense. We try to run the ball as much as we can, keep a short field and play a short game.”
Yorkville had similar ideas as the fruitless first half took only 41 minutes.
The backbreaker for Yorkville came on the ensuing possession when the Tigers’ Muscanero got into the end zone from 29 yards out after picking off the Foxes’ quarterback.
Yorkville starting QB, Luke Davies, was sacked five times for minus 41 yards.
The Tigers allowed seven yards rushing on 32 Yorkville attempts.
“Our D-line is great,” Muscanero said. “They just came out and played. We wanted to go out on a good note. I knew they were going to throw it in the flat. I was expecting the ball there when they motioned over. I just saw the ball, picked it off and ran it into the end zone.”
Plainfield North quarterback Adam Smith closed out the scoring by floating a 10-yard pass to tight end Joey Schuster two plays after Wylie Cooper recovered a fumble at the Foxes’ 12-yard line.
The final score was not indicative of the overall Yorkville performance as Plainfield North managed only 148 total yards.
Gumila had 97 of those yards on 21 carries.
“It kind of made us one-dimensional,” said Yorkville coach Dan McGuire of the Tigers’ neutralization of the Foxes’ ground game. “Our defense really fought hard for us. I’m the guy who calls the offensive plays. It begins and ends with me. I didn’t have our kids well-enough prepared this week.”
A Yorkville fumble near the goal line as time expired vanquished its best chance to score.
The Foxes finished with 114 yards through the air. The connection between Davies and wideout Kory Flowers accounted for 53 of the Foxes’ 121 total yards on four catches.