PLAINFIELD - Plainfield North celebrated homecoming and its final regular season home game with a 14-0 victory over Minooka Friday night in a Southwest Prairie Conference game.
With the win, the Tigers move to 5-2 on the season and secures a playoff spot, while Minooka goes to 3-4 and needs victories in their final two games to guarantee a playoff spot.
“I know everyone says five wins is in the playoffs, but we will feel much better and celebrate when we get that sixth win,” North coach Anthony Imbordino said. “But tonight was a very good win, especially after last week, that really stung, and our kids really responded well and there is no quit in this team. They all wanted this tonight, especially for the seniors as it was their last regular season game on this field and we knew Minooka is a good football team and it would be a tough game.”
On the opening play of the game, North quarterback Harrison Klein hit Grant Zak on a 58-yard reception, but the drive stalled and John St. Clair converted a 27-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead with 9:40 left in the first quarter.
Neither team could get anything established as there were seven punts among the 11 possessions in the first half and both teams had less than 100 yards of offense.
St. Clair then came back and hit a 22-yard field goal with 2:00 minutes left in the half after Minooka failed on a fake punt on their own 19 yard line to lead 6-0 at the break.
“I’ll be honest, I was nervous,” St. Clair said. “But it was pretty cool, knowing at halftime that all the points in the game were from a kicker.”
The Tigers have relied on running back Jared Gumila, but on this night, they received something Gumila hasn’t been able to do in his high school varsity career - finish a game. Mostly because of leg cramps, but pickle juice may have finally solved the problem.
“We have tried everything with Jared [Gumila], but we might have found an answer to get him through a game,” Imbordino said.
Gumila had eight carries for only 14 yards in the first half, but got going after the break as he carried the ball 15 more times for 116 yards and caught a 35-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter with 7:31 left for the only touchdown of the game.
“I’m ecstatic right now,” Gumila said. “I finally finished a game, we won and we are going to the playoffs. It’s been rough not being able to play an entire game. We have tried everything and I started to drink pickle juice and it has really helped and it worked tonight.”
Minooka had a great opportunity on their second possession of the game as quarterback Tigers Gavin Dooley hit Trevor Hudak with a 35-yard pass play to advance to the Tigers 29 yard line, but on the very next snap, the snap sailed past Dooley and resulted in a 24-yard loss. The Indians other opportunity came on their next possession as Hudak converted a fake punt for a 20-yard gain, but the Indians failed to convert a fourth and eight play, coming up one yard short as the Tigers took over on their own 21 yard line.
Another opportunity for the Indians with less than a minute left in the third quarter, they had an 85-yard touchdown pass called back because of a holding penalty.
“We had opportunities tonight,” Minooka coach Matt Harding said. “We just weren’t clicking on all cylinders and when your defense is on the field for so many plays it wears on them. We have had a rough four-game stretch on the road, but our final two are at home and we need to get them.
“As you saw tonight, it was a hard-hitting game, nothing fancy, just football and that is always the case with North. They are a good team, but we finally had our team back, but only have had two practices together as a group. It will be good to get home to play.”