Football: Mistakes doom Lincoln-Way West in 21-14 loss to Sycamore in 5A
By Pat Disabato email@example.com November 16, 2013 5:24PM
11/16/13 Sycamore-Lincoln Way Wests Justin Keuch (11) looks for an open receiver with Javier Montalvo (10). Stacia Timonere/for Sun Times Media
Updated: December 18, 2013 6:44AM
Lincoln-Way West had undefeated Sycamore on the ropes and was in prime position to land the knockout blow during Saturday’s Class 5A quarterfinal tilt.
The Warriors led 14-7 at the half and were getting the ball to start the third quarter. They also were going to have the aid of a strong wind at their back.
With the way Javier Montalvo was running the ball — 153 yards and two scores on just 12 carries in the first half — all signs pointed to West extending its lead.
Mistakes, however, prevented West from padding its scoring advantage and provided Sycamore with hope.
The host Spartans turned that hope into reality, scoring twice in the fourth quarter to record a 21-14 victory.
The Warriors lost twice all season — in Weeks 1 and 12 — and both times were to Sycamore (12-0).
“They made plays on third and fourth down and converted and we didn’t,” Lincoln-Way West coach Dave Ernst said. “We made mistakes and all of us — the coaches and players — have to be held accountable.”
Sycamore quarterback Devin Mottet had a huge game, rushing 28 times for 109 yards. But it was his two touchdown passes to Ben Niemann — the first covering 20 yards that tied the game at 14 and the second coming from 11 yards out with 1:09 left that gave the Spartans the lead — that were the difference.
“Devin willed us to the win,” Sycamore coach Joe Ryan said. “The guys never gave up. It was a great football game.”
The Warriors struck first, scoring on their second series of the game when Montalvo whisked 38 yards and Sean Hastings hit the first of two point-after kicks.
Sycamore tied the game at 3:02 of the second quarter on a 4-yard run by Dion Hooker and PAT from Tyler Maveus.
Montalvo gave the Warriors the lead right back 11 seconds later, scurrying right up the middle on a 65-yard TD run that made it 14-7. He finished with 184 yards on 23 carries.
With the lead, the wind and the ball to start the second half, Ernst stressed to his team the importance of the third quarter.
“Coach told us we got to go finish it off,” Montalvo said of Ernst’s halftime message. “We’ve got to break their spirit.”
The Warriors looked like they were going to put their coach’s words into action. However, critical botched plays during West’s first two possessions of the second half — at the Sycamore 35- and 34-yard line, respectively — resulted in negative yardage and eventual punts.
“When we had the ball and the wind in the third quarter and we didn’t convert, that’s when it started to get away from us,” Ernst said. “We just made some critical mistakes.”
Sycamore made West pay. Not only were the Spartans able to score twice, both drives were major clock-eaters, combining to wipe 13:05 off the clock.
The Warriors had a chance to force overtime, setting up shop on their 33 with 1:03 to go.
Quarterback Justin Keuch (6-of-15, 61 yards) directed the offense down field, hitting Jake Robbins on a clutch 14-yard strike on fourth-and-10 and finding Mason Mahoney on a 10-yard completion. Keuch also ran for gains of 15 and 14 yards, the latter moving the ball to the Spartans 11 with 2.3 seconds left.
The final play, a bootleg with Keuch faking the hand off and running around the right side, netted seven yards, some four yards short of a touchdown.
“It was a great season,” Ernst said. “I loved every second with these guys.”