WHEATFIELD – The Kankakee Valley Kougars came THISCLOSE to suffering its third late loss of the season Friday night against North Newton at Fred Jones Field.
As the clock wound down with KV up 13-6, the visiting North Newton Spartans found the end zone with less than two seconds left on the clock. Needing one to tie and two to win, the Spartans went for two and almost got it. The pass was placed well, but Kougar Markus Ritchie batted it away to secure the victory for KV.
The game should have been well in hand for the Kats — who were celebrating their homecoming — but they were dogged all night by penalties that negated several big plays, including a 72-yard run for an apparent touchdown that was called back.
Neither team had seemed able to score early on as they traded downs, punts and fourth-down desperation plays to no avail. Even a field goal was missed by the Spartans.
KV (2-3) finally put points on the board with 6:04 remaining in the second quarter on an 80-yard catch-and-run by Ritchie on a pass from junior quarterback Eli Carden. The PAT kick was missed, however, putting the Kougars up 6-0.
North Newton (3-2) would tie it up on a two-yard run by senior Vince Taylor after the Spartans benefited from a pass interference call that had the Kougar coaches up in arms.
The PAT kick was blocked by 6-foot-6 senior Reece Williams, leaving it at a 6-6 tie.
On the kickoff after halftime, North Newton was pinned deep in their own territory and an errant pass was picked off by Ritchie to give the Kougars the ball 34 yards from the goal line. KV was unable to move the ball and a desperation pass on fourth down and 11 yards was picked going the other way.
North Newton used constant motion and misdirection in the backfield at the snap of ball to had some success driving downfield before a resounding sack by Kougar senior Will Dyniewski pinned them at fourth and 18, forcing a punt.
KV was again ineffective on offense and faked a punt which ended with a dropped pass to turn the ball over. North Newton was also held in check, and after the Kougars got the ball back, that 72-yard run for an apparent touchdown occurred. When it was called back, the Kougars resorted right back to riding the back of Nathan Swafford as he carried them downfield before running it in from 15 yards out for the Kougars’ second score of the night.
A successful PAT kick by Ritchie put KV up 13-6 until the aforementioned last second heroics by Taylor brought the Spartans within one point of a win.