Oswego takes command of Southwest Prairie race

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Oswego had the look of a champion Friday, jumping into the driver’s seat in the Southwest Prairie Conference race with an impressive 35-7 victory over visiting Plainfield North.

The decision gives the Panthers (6-1, 5-0) a one-game lead over the Tigers (5-2, 4-1) with two games remaining.

“We were focused on stopping the run and not giving up yards,” Oswego senior linebacker Max Larsen said. “Our defensive line was ripping through their offensive line the entire game, helping us linebackers do what we had to do.”

And what they did was limit Plainfield North to 156 total yards, holding running back Jay Roberts in check with just 22 yards on 14 carries and yielding 111 passing yards to quarterback Kurt Palendech.

Meanwhile, Oswego was winning the field position battle and piling up 341 total yards, led by running back Mickeel Stewart’s 175 yards on 25 carries and another 78 running yards from quarterback Brett Wainwright, who passed for just 37 yards in a strong crosswind.

A 14-yard Plainfield North punt after going three-and-out on the first possession set the Panthers up at their 48-yard line for their opening drive.

Fullback Bryce Holm capped an eight-play drive with a 6-yard scoring run, and Jeremy Wine’s PAT gave the home team a 7-0 lead.

The Tigers answered with a five-play, 67-yard scoring drive, capped by a 43-yard TD pass from Palendech to Kendall Interial on a go route down the sideline. Chase Meadows’ kick tied it with 5:14 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Oswego defense then got nasty, limiting the Tigers to 89 yards the rest of the game, including just two second-half first downs.

“You could make a case for all three phases of the game,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said. “I know the special teams is probably the most quiet but all three did well.

“We had one weak drive on defense and then buckled down and stopped their power running game to get them away from their game plan. And they put the ball in a talented quarterback’s hands. He’s quick but our kids stuck with it. He’s hard to simulate and we used our starting quarterback in practice to prepare for him.”

Oswego hammered out two second-quarter scoring drives of 72 and 58 yards on Stewart’s strong running and led 21-7 at half after the senior back’s 33-yard scoring run and another Holm TD from 1-yard out.

The Tigers marched to the Panther 5 late in the half but could not put a score up.

“That’s one of our defensive goals coming in. We realized that was a deficit we had in the last couple years, our red-zone defense,” said Cooney.

“It seemed like a lot of times last year we caved and this year we’ve flipped the script on that. We take a lot of pride in that when the ball crosses the 20, we’re gonna buckle down.”

Senior defensive back Jamaal Richardson set up a third-quarter Oswego score by picking off a Palendech pass at the 25 and returning it to the Tiger 3. After an Oswego penalty, Wainwright ran it in from 8 yards out.

Early in the fourth quarter he added a 23-yard TD run around left end to cap the scoring.

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