In an effort worth of a homecoming performance, the Forester fell just short in their comeback efforts. The Foresters were able to claw within 3 points on the first play of the fourth quarter and again within 4 points with seven minutes remaining in the game.
Junior Quarterback Pete Scaffidi would become the first Forester ever to throw for over 300 yards in three consecutive games as he finished with 345 yards. Senior Kevin Davis would top 150 receiving yards for the second time in two weeks, besting his career single game high by one yard with 158 yards. Senior Luke Butts would record his first interception of the year, moving him up to 7th all time for interceptions for the Foresters.
Early in the game, the Foresters were their own worst enemy. After each teams first possession, the Foresters held a 7-3 lead over the Pioneers. On Carroll's second possession of the game, they held Carroll to a 3 and out series and forced Carroll to punt. The punt landed out of the endzone and the Foresters. The Foresters would also have a 3 and out, but the punt snap went awry and the Foresters were tackled on their own 11 yard line. The Foresters defense held tough on the first three plays, but the Pioneers attempt on 4th and goal from the 2 yard line was successful.
The Foresters next drive would end on a Pete Scaffidi interception. It was only Scaffidi's third interception on the season. Carroll would take possession of the ball and score to extend their lead to 17-7. The drive was aided by a 15 yard personal foul call against the Foresters.
Lake Forest would receive the kickoff and go 72 yards on 11 plays. The scoring play was a 4th & 11 pass from Pete Scaffidi to Kevin Davis that went for a 24 yard touchdown pass. The extra point from Donnie Caldwell would make the score 17-14 in favor of the Pioneers.
Carroll would return the following kickoff to the 42 yard line. They would pick up a first down on a screen pass to their running back. On the next play, the Foresters would intercept Carroll's pass on the seven yard line on a spectacular over the shoulder catch by sophomore defensive back Darrius McKay. The interception was McKay's second of the season.
The Foresters would pick up two first downs before and illegal block would negate an Al Mitchell 3 yard run, and send them back to the 18 yard line. On the subsequent 4th down, the Foresters would have their second miscue on special teams as a Carroll defender partially blocked the Tanner Daugherty punt.
"We had a chance to really build some momentum in the first half. I hate to use "coach talk" but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We had two opportunities to take the lead, or at least chance the field position in our favor, and both times, we gave the ball back to Carroll in better field position than they had left the field with on their previous series," commented Coach Catanzaro.
Carroll would take over, but it was the Forester defense that stepped up and held the Pioneers to a single first down. After gaining a first down, the Carroll QB would get to know sophomore defensive lineman Taylor Holzmeyer who sacked him for a 10 yard loss. The Forester defense would give up no more yards on this drive and force Carroll to punt. The Carroll punt went out of bounds, and the Foresters took over on their 20 yard line. After an incomplete pass and a false start penalty the Foresters were faced with a 2nd and 15 from their 15 yard line. Scaffidi would be intercepted for the second time in the contest by the Carroll defender Neal Layng. Layng would return the interception to the Lake Forest 12 yard line. On second down, the Pioneers were able to extend their lead to 24-14.
"That was a very frustrating sequence. I expected the defense to go out there and get a stop the way that they had been playing to that point, and hold for a field goal attempt. Too have two of their three touchdowns cover 12 and 11 yards total was frustrating. We knew that we could give them extra chances in the short field like that. They were second in the conference last year, and are a top three or four team in the MWC most seasons. You can't turn the ball over, or make special teams errors. They will capitalize on those situations," explained Catanzaro.
The Foresters next possession was showing great promise as they crossed midfield with ease and looked on pace to answer the Carroll score. On 2nd and 4 on the 41 yard line, Scaffidi completed a crossing route to Davis who took the ball to the 27 yard line before being hit awkwardly, and fumbling the football. Layng picked up his second turnover of the day and began a footrace through the Forester offensive lineman and appeared on his way for a touchdown, had it not been for junior wide receiver Rocky Al-Mutawa who caught Layng from behind on the 10 yard line.
"Rocky's hustle play turned out to be one of the most important plays of the game. It gave our defense a chance to go on the field at try to get a stop. The fumble really hurt us. The way we were moving the ball, it looked like we were going to cut the lead into a one score lead, and you could feel the energy get zapped from our sideline," said Catanzaro.
The Forester defense would be aided by a personal foul on second down and three consecutive incomplete passes by Carroll, before the 42 yard field goal attempt would push wide of the uprights.
"We felt that we dodged a bullet at the end of the half. I felt like our defense really responded, and had picked up a few big stops, and were playing really well when we had some space to work with. But we had also gotten two stops inside the red-zone. Despite the points, I thought we were doing a fairly good job on defense. I thought that if our offense just held onto the ball, that they could score a lot of points in the second half," said Catanzaro.
The Carroll offense, was averaging 195 yards rushing the ball per game, but were limited to 9 carries for 14 yards in the first half of play.
The second half started with the Foresters receiving the opening kickoff. The drive would march deep into Pioneer territory, before a 4th down completion to Austin Sobey would be marked 4 inches short of a first down. The Forester defense would come out and play a great series, which included Holzmeyer's second sack of the day on third down, thus forcing Carroll to punt again. The Foresters would march down the field, before the drive would stall on the 8 yard line. Freshman Donnie Caldwell would attempt a 27 yard field goal that would sail wide left.
The Forester defense would gain another stop of the Carroll offense, as Luke Butts would intercept the third down pass by Carroll on the 36 yard line. The Forester offense would take 10 plays, but on the first play of the fourth quarter would score on a Pete Scaffidi quarterback sneak, cutting the Carroll lead to 24-21.
"It was great to see the defensive takeaway leading to a touchdown. That is something that we had talked about all week in practice that we needed to make a big stop, or get a takeaway and then score. Pete told us that he could get us in there, even if we had to run the sneak four times in a row. I think that we were ready to do that at that point," said Catanzaro.
On Carroll's next possession, they would bounce a running play off a Forester tackle for 33 yards before junior Aidan Price would make the tackle. Price who was starting at safety for the first time in his career finished the day with five tackles and a forced fumble on the day. The Forester defense would gain one more big stop on the 14 yard line as Nick Waters broke up the Carroll 4th down pass attempt.
Unfortunately for the Foresters, they would commit another turnover on their first play after the 4th down stop. Junior Al Mitchell would take the handoff, but as he was tackled a Carroll defender was able to rip the ball away from Mitchell. Carroll would gain control of the bouncing ball, and take over with a fresh set of downs on the 18 yard line. Two plays later they would score to extend their lead to 10 points.
After a 41 yard kickoff return by McKay, Scaffidi would target junior Austin Sobey on the 1st play from scrimmage for a 37 yard touchdown.
"It was a great route conversion, and read by both players. After the "kick in the gut" of fumbling after the stop to get that score so quickly really helped out sideline and fans," said Catanzaro.
The following kickoff would drift out of bounds, giving the Pioneers a 1st and 10 on the 40 yard line. Carroll would march 60 yards on 8 plays over the course of 4 minutes in order to re-extend their lead to 10.
The offensive explosions were not complete by any stretch. Carroll would send their kickoff out of bounds, and the Foresters would look to capitalize with the short field. On their third play from scrimmage, they did just that as Scaffidi connected with Davis for a 46 yard touchdown. It was the second time the two South Elgin High School graduates had connected for a touchdown.
With seven minutes to go in the game, Carroll would hold a four point lead as the extra point attempt would be missed.
On the third play of Carroll's next drive, all-conference running back Joe Beckstrand would cutback a running play and go 39 yards for a touchdown, to get an 11 point lead for the Pioneers. The Foresters could not answer on their next drive, and Carroll was able to run out the clock on the Foresters homecoming.
"I think that every member of our team wanted that win more than anyone else. I know that we are all going to look at film tomorrow and be frustrated with our inability to capitalize on the opportunities that were there for the taking. We made some critical mistakes in special teams and in ball security early, and then defensively we had some lapses late in the game. Momentum is a funny thing, and we need to do a better job of riding that wave on the positive side of that. I am looking forward to getting back on the field to work towards that. We are a team that is much better than our record, but we have to figure out how to finish the game, once we accomplish that task, it will be the start of something really special," finished Catanzaro.
Players of the Week
Offense: Austin Sobey 9 catches 124 yards and 1 touchdown
Defense: Taylor Holzmeyer 2 sacks, 3 tackles, 1 pressure, 1 pass breakup
Special Teams: Darrius McKay 4 Returns 157 yards on kickoffs
Scout Team: Freshman Jared Herter
Lineman of the Week: Tom Mitchell