It might seem a little off the wall to think that a football game that produced 75 points and more than 900 yards of offense would be turned by a single defensive play, but a strong case can be made that Tim Manczkos diving fourth-quarter interception did just that.
Conants Manczko, who put up big numbers on offense Friday (9 catches for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus one rushing score and a 2-point conversion), added a driving-killing interception on his own 5 yard line with 5:54 left in the fourth quarter, as Jack Milas was leading his Rolling Meadows teammates to what would have been a game-tying touchdown, trailing by a 7 points.
The Cougars ate up the remaining time with a 13-play drive that ended with quarterback Danny Modelski took a knee on the last two plays of Conants 41-34 MSL crossover victory over the visiting Mustangs at Charles O. Feutz Field.
The offensive numbers were staggering. Milas completed 34 of 51 passes for 338 yards and 5 touchdowns. Modelski was 17 of 25 for 262 yards and 3 touchdowns, and he ran for another score. Jacobi Sims provided the ground game for Conant, carrying the ball 21 times for 209 yards and a touchdown.
We had a good week of practice, Conant coach Bill Modelski said. We had an attitude adjustment in the Prospect game. We played a very good team but werent very happy with ourselves.
We worked our (tails) off in practice this week, Danny Modelski said. We got better with our execution.
We focused on working harder in practice, going hard every single play, Manczko said. The most important thing was how hard we practiced.
Our leadership pulled us in that direction, Bill Modelski said. If it only comes from the coaches, it gets old fast.
Its something for us to beat a good team with 5 turnovers, he said. Thats got to get fixed.
We knew they were dynamic, Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. They have a really good running back (Sims), and (Manczko) is the best offensive player in the area. Our defense didnt play up to their capabilities, and theyll admit that.
Conant led 20-14 at halftime and stretched the lead to 33-13 with a pair of third quarter scores before the efficient Meadows offense started to click.
Milas completed 4 of 6 passes for 41 yards and a TD pass for Austin Reed, cutting the margin to 33-21. After Conant lost a fumble, Meadows went back on the attack, driving 77 yards in 12 plays. Milas found Jacob Grant (9 catches, 82 yards) in the end zone for the 14-yard scoring pass.
After Adam Pavlakis made his second interception of the game, the Mustangs took their only lead, 34-33, on an 18-yard pass from Milas to Steven Royster with 11:30 left in the game.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Sims bolted around the right side of his line and raced to what many thought was a touchdown, but the officials ruled that a Meadows defender punched the ball out of his hands through the end zone for a touchback before he crossed the goal line, giving Meadows the ball at its own 20.
A three-and-out gave Conant possession on the Meadows 33, and two plays later, Sims scored on a 6-yard run, and Manczko scored the 2-point conversion with 9:02 left.