Oswego was in a dubious position late in its Southwest Prairie matchup Friday at Plainfield East.
The Panthers were on the verge of having a 25-game conference winning streak snapped, trailing 21-17 with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter.
However, quarterback Carter Turnquist lofted a 27-yard touchdown pass to Zach West to help pull out a 24-21 win, keeping Oswego atop the league with two weeks left in the season.
“We showed perseverance and grit,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said. “Our backs were against the wall. Either we perform or lose. We performed at the end.”
“We played a very good game and I can’t be any prouder of these guys,” Plainfield East coach Mike Romeli said. “They made one more play than us and that’s why we’re on the short end.”
That play was the third huge pass play of the second half between Turnquist and West. Seconds before the TD pass, the two hooked up for an 11-yard pass play on fourth-and-six at the Plainfield East 42.
Trailing 14-9 at the half, Turnquist threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to West to give Oswego (6-1, 5-0) a 17-14 lead after three quarters.
“They made two big plays in the second half and unfortunately, we ended up on the short end of the stick,” Romeli said.
“Our running game always sets up our passing game,” West said. “The corners were coming and the coaches were smart enough to know what plays to run.”
Treshon Weddington ran 33 times for 141 yards to lead Oswego.
“This was a special game to us to recognize what kind of team we are,” Turnquist said.
Plainfield East (5-2, 4-2) seemed to clinch its first win in the series when Cole Kotopka hit Feras Hleihel for an 18-yard TD and 21-17 lead with 5:44 to play in the fourth.
However, West (four catches, 98 yards) made sure the streak stayed intact.
“(The streak) was on the back of our mind and we weren’t going to let this one slip,” West said. “They are a playoff contender. We just have to keep working and grinding.”
Oswego turned the ball over three times in the first half.
Oswego scored on its first possession when Erik Vargas Jr. went in from the 1. Jake Mayon’s 1-yard TD run off the first Panther turnover tied it at 7-all after a quarter.
A sure touchdown by Oswego turned into a fumble at the goal line and a recovery by Jarvis Carter. However, Mayon was tackled in the end zone on the next play for a safety to give Oswego a 9-7 lead with 5:27 left in the second quarter.
Donte Hartsfield’s interception led to a 4-yard TD run by Mayon just before the end of the half. Plainfield East led 14-9 at the break.
“If you told us we were going to be minus-three in the turnover department, I could have told you the outcome,” Cooney said.