Maroons squander too many chances
NORMAL – Despite a great defensive effort, pouring rain and a few big mistakes shattered Champaign Central's hopes of winning consecutive Big 12 Conference contests as Normal West defeated the Maroons 21-14 in overtime Friday.
The Maroons led 14-7 at the half but struggled offensively the rest of the way. Normal West connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
"The weather really did wreak havoc with our offense with what we wanted to do," Central coach Dave Jacobs said. "Because we're not real big and if we have to go out and get into a slugfest, we're usually going to be outsized there, and that really slowed our offense down."
Normal West scored on a 5-yard run on its first play from scrimmage in overtime after a Central encroachment penalty gave the Wildcats the ball on the 5-yard line.
On Central's first opportunity in overtime, sophomore quarterback Doug Kyrouac was intercepted to end the game.
Jacobs said the loss was devastating to his players.
"There was a lot of tears in (the locker room)," Jacobs said. "This team has so much heart, and they worked so hard. They were hurt, and they were saying the right things. You could look in their eyes and tell that they gave everything they had, and as a coach that's what you ask for."
The Central offense rushed for 120 yards and passed for 62 yards in the first half, but the soaked field limited Central's offensive production to 55 yards in the second half.
Missed opportunities also were a problem for the Mar-oons, as they were unable take advantage of two drives in the red zone, losing a fumble and missing a field goal from the 1-yard line.
"We didn't capitalize when we should have," Jacobs said. "We moved the ball very well in the first half. We missed our first two scoring opportunities. If you're going to beat good teams, it's the same thing that happened when we played (Normal) Community. We can't do the things that we did."
Sophomore running back Denzel Stewart paced the Maroons with 120 yards on the ground.
Central (1-2) will look to bounce back against Big 12 Conference rival Eisenhower next week at home.
"West is a great team," Jacobs said. "They're well-coached, and they didn't make mistakes. They found a way to win in the end at home and congratulations to them. But I love our team. I absolutely love this group of guys. We're going to rebound well."