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Plainfield Central doesn’t get style points in win

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PLAINFIELD - It wasn’t pretty, but Plainfield Central used a defensive touchdown, a field goal and finally scored on offensive touchdown late in the third quarter to beat Joliet West 16-0 Friday night in a Southwest Prairie Conference game.

The Wildcats move to 4-1 on the season and it’s the first time since 2008 that Central has won four of its first five games.

“It didn’t look good, but our defense played so well and we will take the win tonight,” Central coach Robert Keane said. “I’m so proud of our defense and to come out and get a shutout is big. But I have to to mention what a great job West did tonight, especially with all they have been through. Their effort tonight was great and our hats are off to Coach [Bill] Lech, the staff and all their players.”

West (0-5) hasn’t played since Week Two because of Covid and only had two full team practices in the past two weeks, with those coming this past Wednesday and Thursday.

After a scoreless first quarter Central put a drive together that started on their own 34 yard line and culminated with a 36 yard field goal by Brendan Prah with 8:13 left in the second quarter and that was the way the first half ended.

West had two golden opportunities in the first half with the first coming after their second possession as they recovered a fumbled punt by the Wildcats at the 16-yard line. However, a nine-yard sack and a holding penalty forced the Tigers to punt and killed the threat. The other chance was with 3:37 left in the half, they put together a 53 yard drive to the 17-yard line and on third and one lost seven yards, then on fourth down came up two yards short for the first down attempt.

On the Tigers first possession of the second half, the Wildcats Charlton Jones picked off the pass from Evan Gould and raced 17 yards for the touchdown and went up 9-0.

“I saw green and that was so big for the momentum in the game, both for our defense and offensively,” Jones said. “That was my first ever interception and my first touchdown and now I want more, that felt so good.”

“We talked at halftime about one of the teams is going to make a statement early in the second half,” Keane said. “Charleton [Jones] did just that and our entire defense was great tonight.”

Then with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter, Central put together a 53 yard drive, sparked by two passes of 21 and 17 yards from quarterback Connor Huffman to Derek McClimon and the Huffman scampered the final three yards around the right side to score the only offensive touchdown in the game.

“I saw on the ply before their [West} cornerback really crashing down hard and I told coach I could take it around the end and in, he told me to go for it and it worked,” Huffman said. “At halftime we talked about getting our blocks down and we put in the power team and they did the job on our drives in the second half.”

Lech saw something this week that the veteran coach had not seen in all his years of coach.

“The enthusiasm I saw from our team on Wednesday and Thursday was the best I have ever seen in all my years of coaching,” Lech said. “Our defense played well tonight and we really did a great job against one of the better running backs in the conference in Aaron Larkins. We started a backup quarterback and that is tough with only two days of practice, but we did some good things tonight and actually it was like week one all over again.”