Minooka’s senior cornerback Corbett Oughton intercepted three passes, returning one for a touchdown, and Minooka’s three running backs in the double-wing formation combined for 315 rushing yards in 30 attempts Friday night as the Indians got into the win column against previously unbeaten Southwest Prairie Conference foe Plainfield Central, 45-14.
The offensive formation was significant because the Indians had tried other strategies in losing to Morris, Providence and Oswego. This time, wide receiver Max Brozovich returned to a wingback position, which he had not played since freshman year, and went for 125 yards in eight carries. Included were a 27-yard scamper to the Central 1-yard line to set up the first score, a 20-yard run for a first down on a fake punt and a 58-yard scoring run.
Sophomore wingback Nate Gunn had 53- and 33-yard jaunts in the second quarter, the latter for a touchdown, and finished with 114 yards in 10 carries. Senior fullback Cory Bee chipped in with 78 yards in 12 carries and scored twice, once from 28 yards out.
And this was an offense without its regular quarterback, senior Joe Carnagio, who was nursing an ankle injury. Junior Shane Briscoe filled in admirably, hitting a big 44-yard touchdown pass to Luke Stovall and a key 17-yard completion to Brozovich on a third-and-long in a highlight-reel first half that ended with Minooka (1-3, 1-1) on top 31-0.
“Shane did a nice job,” said Minooka’s Paul Forsythe after his first victory as the head coach. “The offense needed the first score, and he led us down there to get it. In three games, we never led. We needed the confidence from that.”
“I’m not sure we were ready to play,” Central coach John Jackson said. “We never got in a rhythm. We were flat.
“They respected us. They came out and played hard, and we were a little passive. It took until the second half for us to play like we are capable of. We put a little scare into them for a while in the third quarter, but then the mistakes happened again.”
The potent running game that is a staple for No. 7 Central (3-1, 1-1) was pretty well grounded by Minooka’s defense. Jordan Ellingwood finished with 78 yards in 21 carries — 45 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter — and Gino Giarranto managed 35 in six carries.
The Indians forced the Wildcats to the air and limited senior quarterback Brian Blair to 6-of-23 for 57 yards and Oughton’s three picks.
“They love 33 (Ellingwood) and 3 (Giarratano) and as long as they are on the field, the game isn’t over,” Forsythe said. “I really wasn’t pleased with how we finished, but our defense did play well. They were actually on the field for a lot of snaps.”
Central was down 38-0 when Dane Moscatelli broke the shutout with a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown with 1:56 left in the third quarter. The Wildcats’ Alex Julian recovered a Minooka fumble deep in its territory and Blair hit a touchdown pass to make it 38-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Central then recovered an onside kick and marched to a third-and-3 at the Indians’ 4. That’s when Oughton, who had returned a pick 36 yards for a score midway through the third quarter, stepped in front of the receiver for his third interception and stumbled his way to the 16-yard line, effectively ending the Wildcats’ comeback dreams.