WILMINGTON – Lisle’s football team could not overcome a trio of costly first-half errors.
Trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, the Lions turned the ball over on three straight drives – including an interception at their own 30-yard-line – and never recovered from a two-score deficit, losing to Wilmington 20-10 in an Interstate Eight Small game on Friday.
Going into the game, Lisle (3-3, 2-2 I-8 Small) head coach Dan Sanko game planned for a stingy Wilmington defense – the Wildcats had only surrendered 25 points and were undefeated through five games – but he could not foresee three consecutive turnovers.
“I thought we came in and played with a lot of confidence and did a lot of things really well,” Sanko said. “But the turnovers were unexpected, especially on three series in a row. Those turnovers really took the wind out of our sails.”
On defense, the Lions yielded a 55-yard touchdown run to Wilmington running back Nick McWilliams on the second play from scrimmage. But Lisle settled down and did not allow another touchdown until the waning seconds of the first half.
In the second quarter, Ben Buchelt kicked a 23-yard field goal to cut the score to 7-3, but then Lisle fumbled twice before quarterback Griffin Huba threw a pick on his own 30-yard-line.
“Our offense put our defense in bad position after bad position,” Sanko said. “They were out there for a long time in the second quarter and we never really recovered from that.”
Following the Huba interception, Wilmington’s Austin Skoryi ran in a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the first half to make it 13-3. The Wildcats received the ball in the second half and produced another scoring drive to increase their lead to 20-3.
Lisle added a second half touchdown on Kevin Coppin’s 1-yard plunge, but the game clock expired with the Lions in the red zone down 20-10.
Still, Sanko liked the way the Lions scratched, clawed and fought against the top team in the Interstate Eight Small Conference.
“I’m really proud of our kids – they came to play and they left it all on the field,” Sanko said. “They really stepped up their level of play against an excellent team.”
Next, the Lions will host Westmont at 7:30 p.m. at Benedictine University on Friday.