Coal City takes down Plano in defensive battle

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There came a point during the fourth quarter of Coal City’s 7-0 win over Plano on Friday that Coalers coach Lenny Onsen figured his team would be playing until midnight.

“For a while there, I didn’t think either of us would be able to score,” Onsen said. “I was wondering how many overtimes we were going to go.”

The answer? None.

Ryland Tondini had a 12-yard carry into the end zone with 3:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, and two key fumble recoveries sealed the Coalers’ Interstate Eight Large victory on the road against the Reapers.

Coming off its first loss of the season, 14-10 to Sandwich, Coal City (5-1, 3-1) looked to bounce back. But the bounces weren’t there early.

Or, to be more accurate, the bounces suited a game played with a pointed ball — they didn’t seem to be going any particular direction.

Each team fumbled once before halftime, with the punters getting an inordinate amount of work.

Though the Coalers’ offense sputtered most of the night, it perked up a bit in the fourth.

First, junior quarterback Brennan Shetina helped to mount a threat early in the quarter, completing three passes on a drive that reached the Plano 36-yard line before stalling with a sack and a delay of game penalty.

Following a Reapers three-and-out, Coal City finally breached the goal line. First, Shetina connected on a 25-yard pass to Matt Burchfield, who managed to get one foot inbounds on the sideline route. Tondini’s scoring run followed.

Plano tried to answer, but seven plays into its ensuing drive, a backward pass went awry, Jake Czaja recovering for Coal City at the Coalers’ 48.

Three snaps and three timeouts later, Coal City punted back to the Reapers, but Bailey DePodesta recovered the muffed punt, ending any hopes of a Plano comeback.

“I definitely don’t like the drama,” Onsen said. “We have a lot of improvement to do. In the I-8 it’s a hard-fought game every night.”

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