For the second time in as many weeks, a late 4th quarter touchdown leads the Foresters to victory.
The Forester Football team continued their late game heroics on Saturday against Monmouth College, as they won 28-24 to spoil the Scots' homecoming. The Foresters took the final lead of the game with 2:25 left to go in the game on a 43 yard touchdown run by Freshman Joey Valdivia.
Valdivia, paced the Foresters with 136 yards on 15 carries, but it was his running style that most impressed Head Football Coach Jim Catanzaro. "Joey finished every run he had today. I think that he really got going after his kick off return. He got a little bit of ribbing from the players about being tackled by a kicker, and he made sure that nobody tackled him by themselves for the rest of the game. His final touchdown run was one of the best runs of the season," commented Catanzaro.
Early in the first half, the Foresters found themselves in a danger of letting the game get away from them as the Fighting Scots started their first three drives of the game in Forester territory after the offense could only must six yards on the first 12 plays they had the ball. The Forester defense stood strong against the Scots, holding them to a field goal on their first drive, and forcing a fumble by Eddie Dobernig and an interception by Bryce Jones on the next two possessions.
"Sometimes being a good defense isn't about getting stops, but creating opportunities to get the ball back. The fumble that Eddie forced was a huge momentum play, as it came after they had a big gain. Additionally, Bryce's interception set up our first score and gave us our best starting field position of the day. To record two turnovers on two consecutive plays really got things headed in the right direction for us," said Catanzaro.
|Singing the Forester Victory Song|
The Foresters would score on the first play of the second half as Senior QB Pete Scaffidi completed a 24 yard pass to RB Al Mitchell. The Foresters 7-3 lead would hold up for 14 minutes until Monmouth would score a go ahead touchdown 27 seconds before the intermission.
"I was disappointed that we gave up that touchdown. We had done a nice job defensively in the first half. They caught us in a blitz, and were able to rip off a big chunk of yardage on a 2nd and seven play near midfield that moved them close to scoring. I think that if we make the tackle for a two yard gain, it changes the entire drive," said Catanzaro.
The Foresters went into the locker room down 10-7, but this is a position they have grown familiar with. "I'd like to say that we are "ok" with being down at the half, but we don't want to be. The one thing that is different is that we believe whole-heartedly that we are going to come out and win the second half. When I went into the locker room at half-time there were some adjustments that we had to make. We weren't doing some of the things that we had practiced all week. Additionally, Monmouth had revisited a couple of pages of their playbook that we hadn't seen on film a whole lot. They did a great job scheming us up, and they were able to make some big third down conversions. Throughout the season, we had been really stout on third downs, that was not the case against Monmouth. To their credit they were making plays on third down, and we were not. I am confident that our players knew that with these adjustments made, we would be able to come out on top," said Catanzaro.
After the teams exchanged punts on their opening possessions of the game, Monmouth would increase their lead to 17-7, on an 8 play 65 yard drive that saw the Scots convert on a 3rd and 15 to keep the drive alive. The Foresters would answer right back with a 10 play 72 yard drive, that was capped off with a touchdown pass from Scaffidi to TE Justin Smith. The reception was Smith's third touchdown reception of the year.
|Justin Smith Catches a TD vs. Monmouth|
With the lead cut to 17-14, the Foresters would record a three and out defensively, and give the offense the ball back on the -43 yard line to start the fourth quarter. The Foresters would methodically march 56 yards on 10 plays, before Scaffidi would run the quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line to give the Foresters a 21-17 lead with 9:31 left to go in the game.
The defending conference champion Scots would not go away, as they would convert on third down and six to extend a drive that would be completed with a 22 yard quarterback scramble for a touchdown, by junior QB Brik Wedekind.
"We did a great job getting pressure off the edge, but unfortunately, our interior push didn't match. When he was able to escape, we were in a coverage that isn't conducive to helping out guys up front if they lose their rush lane integrity. That is something that we have to fix in a big way moving forward," commented Catanzaro.
|Valdivia on his way to the end zone |
for his game winning TD
The Foresters would receive the ball down 24-21, with just over five minutes to go in the game. The ensuing Monmouth kick would bounce out of the end zone, and the Foresters would take over after the touch back. The Foresters would need only six plays to go 80 yards before Valdivia would break free for his game winning 43 yard touchdown.
The Scots would have plenty of time to try to reclaim the lead, but after converting on their first 3rd down of the drive. The Scots found themselves faced with a 4th and 7 play. As Wedekind dropped back to pass, he found himself immediately harassed by Bryce Jones. Jones, who was in a delayed blitz, would literally chase the Monmouth QB 57 yards backwards and across the field, before he through a game ending interception to Senior Safety Dominick Campagna.
|Campagna securing the|
game clinching INT
"There was NO WAY Bryce was going to be able to play the next play of the game, if there was one. He gave everything he had on that play. Dom did a great job of adjust to where the ball was in the air, and as soon as he caught it, he made sure he was on the ground so that we could maintain possession. It was a great way to win the game. I think that the best part of the end was that our players were happy, but they were filled with jubilation. They knew that they had just played a great game against a tremendous opponent, but they also felt like they hadn't played a very good game across the board. They have a higher expectation for themselves, and that is a cultural shift that we have been working towards as coaches and players, I was extremely pleased to see us dissatisfied despite winning the game. We accomplished our goal of going 1-0, but I we realized that there was still a lot left for us to work on," concluded Catanzaro.
*Thank-you to Cindy Gurchak for the use of these photo's.
Players of the Week:
Offensive POTW: Freshman, Joey Valdivia, RB (Grayslake Central High School, Grayslake, IL). 15 Carries 136 yards 1 TD.
Defensive POTW: Senior, Dominick Campagna, DB (Fenwick High School, Elmwood Park, IL). 7 Tackles, 1 INT, Graded out at 97%.
|Browning returning a punt|
Special Teams POTW: Freshman, Clark Browning, DB (Champaign Central, Champagin, IL). 2 Punt returns for 20 yards.
Scout Team POTW: Junior, Victor Gabuardi, DL (Archbishop Carroll, Miami, FL)
Lineman of the Week: Sophomore, Bob Pennell, OG (Spring Lake High School, Spring Lake MI) 21 of 25 grading on the day.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GAME