For the Daily Journal
Moments after Roncalli’s football team escaped Plainfield with an improbable 7-0 win, Rebels coach Bruce Scifres told the school’s cheering section “We’re not going to let any game be boring.”
Friday’s win took that statement to extremes.
The Rebels’ Josh Swan intercepted a pass at the Roncalli 5-yard line with 1:29 to play, seemingly sealing the game with the Rebels up 7-0. Plainfield used both of its timeouts, and the Rebels still had to run a play on fourth down with a two-second differential between the play clock and game clock.
Instead, Roncalli snapped the ball and took a knee with 10.2 seconds left, giving Plainfield the ball with plenty of time to run a play.
Rebels senior linebacker Chris Teney bailed the offense out, darting into the Quaker backfield and stuffing Tavian Gadia for a 2-yard loss.
“My heart sunk,” Rebels coach Bruce Scifres said of the too-early snap. “There was just a lot of confusion in the heat of the moment. I thought about calling a timeout, and maybe I should have, but I didn’t want to stop the clock.”
As for Plainfield’s futile last play, the Rebels’ coaching staff quickly called in a defensive set based on the Quakers’ tendencies thus far.
“We knew they’d try to pound it up the middle or off tackle, so we had Chris stunting,” Scifres said. “He made a nice tackle.”
The Class 4A No. 2 Rebels improved to 4-0 for the first time since the 2004 state championship season, and each win has been by eight points or less. Plainfield fell to 2-2.
Roncalli’s lone scoring drive lasted 6:40, 12 plays and 64 yards. It began with Christian Brueggemann’s fumble recovery on the Rebels’ 31-yard line with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter and ended with Kenny Gillum’s 1-yard touchdown run with 6:25 to play. He danced around defenders for a 22-yard run to set up that score and ran for 46 of his career-high 142 yards on that drive.
“Kenny’s a warrior, and he doesn’t have any choice; it’s in his DNA,” said Scifres, referring to his father and grandfather, who also played at Roncalli.
“Our defense was extraordinary. In a game like this, it’s going to come down to turnovers, and we won that battle.”
Plainfield committed two turnovers, while Roncalli didn’t lose the ball. Plainfield entered Friday’s game averaging 38 points.