PLAINFIELD — Sean Schlanser had the first pass thrown to him Friday night hit him right in the hands.
And he dropped it.
He was determined not to make the same mistake the next time, and when Plainfield North quarterback Demir Ashiru called his number again, Schlanser delivered.
Schlanser, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior, caught Ashiru’s pass in stride and broke free for a 41-yard touchdown that sparked a 31-3 Southwest Prairie Conference West win over Oswego and clinched a playoff spot for the Tigers (6-0, 2-0), who are unbeaten after six games for the first time in school history.
“It was nice to get some redemption after I dropped that first pass,” Schlanser said. “I made sure I caught the next one. It was the same pattern, a slant, but just from the other side.
“That’s how our team is. If we make a mistake, we just shake it off and move on to the next play. We don’t let too much bother us.”
Schlanser’s touchdown was all the ferocious Plainfield North defense would need, but it wasn’t all the Tigers got. Ashiru also threw a pair of TD passes to Braxton Bartz and added another to Shibu Mohammed, while John St. Clair also booted a 36-yard field goal.
Meanwhile, the Plainfield North defense stymied the Oswego offense all night, limiting the Panthers to 123 total yards. The only score for Oswego game on a 34-yard field goal by Tanner Stumpenhorst in the second quarter. It was the only Oswego drive in the first half that went beyond midfield.
“Plainfield North’s defense is legit,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said. “They are physical and they are fast. We couldn’t get much going against them. We knew they were good, and they showed it.
“I thought our defense played pretty well. The problem was that they were on the field too much and got a iittle worn out.”
After Schlanser’s touchdown, North held Oswego to a 3-and-out. The Tigers then drove to the Oswego 19 before St. Clair kicked his 36-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead. After another Oswego 3-and-out, Plainfield North drove 33 yards, the last eight coming on a 4th-and-1 pass from Ashiru to Bartz for a touchdown and a 16-0 lead.
The two teams traded punts before Oswego (2-4, 0-2) put together its best drive of the game. Starting at their own 21, used 12 plays to drive to the Tigers’ 17 before Stumpenhorst hit from 34 yards out to cut it to 16-3, which was the halftime score.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, and North took over at the Oswego 27 early in the fourth. After Ashiru (14 of 26, 195 yards) hit Mohammed for a gain of 12, he connected with Bartz for the second time, this time from 15 yards out. Ashiru then hit Schlanser for a 2-point conversion and the Tigers led 24-3.
“We can spread the offense out to everybody,” Schlanser said. “It’s hard to key on just one guy because we have a lot of guys that can hurt you. And, the offensive line does a great job of giving Demir time to throw and giving our backs holes to run through.
“It’s also nice for us on the offense to know that the defense has our backs. They gave up zero points last game and three tonight, so we know if we score a couple of times, we are in pretty good shape. It feels good to be 6-0 and have a playoff spot. Now, we have to keep working and focusing on the next game to get as good a seed as we can.”
The Tigers capped the scoring with a 29-yard TD pass from Ashiru to Mohammed.
“They caught us out of position a few times on defense,” Cooney said. “We got beat by a good team today. But, our kids played hard and fought all the way.
“Our backs are against the wall now with four losses. We have to win out in order to make the playoffs. That’s what we will start working toward next week.”