The first-half wakeup call definitely caught the attention of the Oswego football team Friday. And boy, did they answer it.
The visiting Panthers trailed crosstown rival Oswego East 15-7 early in the second quarter after RB Chris Cooper torched them for scores on a 60-yard screen pass and 21-yard run — combined with a surprise Sean Kennedy two-point conversion run and a Cooper Fell PAT kick.
Oswego responded by scoring 43 straight points to take a 50-15 lead with 3:36 left in the third quarter and held on for a 50-29 Southwest Prairie Conference decision to climb to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the league. Oswego East falls to 3-2 overall, 1-2 in the SPC.
“That first half we were playing sloppy and our emotions were getting the best of us, I can say that,” said Oswego quarterback Brett Wainwright. “There was a good (standing-room-only) crowd. It was hard for us to hear the cadence. At halftime, we dialed it in.”
The comeback started, though, when the Panthers caught a break. They punted on the possession after the second Wolves’ score, but Tyler Walsh was whistled for interfering with East’s return man’s attempt to catch the kick.
Oswego’s Alex Mine booted again, from 15 yards back, but the Wolves’ return man muffed the catch and Justin Best recovered on the 50.
Wide receiver Jack Kwiatkowski ran a slant route over the midde and made a spinning one-handed circus catch of a Wainwright pass that was thrown behind him and motored 48 yards to the 2. Mickeel Stewart then ran it in for the second of his four straight TDs.
On the next possession, Stewart hauled in a short pass from Wainwright and motored 43 yards for a score, getting a nice block 20 yards downfield from 6-foot, 270-pound lineman John Malatia and then breaking Chase Skenandore’s tackle attempt.
“You keep your composure, stick with the game plan and realize that we, too, can put up points,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said. “What was most impressive to me was that we came off the field at halftime leading 22-15 and our players looked dejected. I told them that was a good sign because they realized we hadn’t played our best football.”
They did in the third quarter, scoring 28 unanswered points on a 28-yard run by Stewart, a 3-yard scoring run by Walsh and a 5-yard run by Bryce Holm before Walsh finished the run by returning a punt 49 yards for a score. Talk about redemption.
“We talk about the emotions of the game and trying to keep on an even keel, with a rivalry game it’s tough to do that,” said Oswego East Coach Tyson LeBlanc. “When we jumped out, I think we got a little too emotional. But our kids fought to the end.”
Cooper added two more scores on a run of eight yards and an 82-yard screen pass from Kennedy, who completed 14 of 31 passes for 279 yards but was picked off twice, by Alain Dixon and Charlie Jakubowski.
Stewart rushed 18 times for 144 yards, but the Panthers were outgained in total yards 391-376 as Cooper ran 18 times for 69 yards and had five receptions for 167 yards.
Oswego DE Chad Burdo left the game with a right knee injury with 2:17 left in the first quarter and did not return.