When he watches the film, Ottawa football coach Trent Swords said he might be happy about a few of the big plays the Pirates made Friday night.
But immediately following Ottawa’s 21-19 victory over rival La Salle-Peru at Howard Fellows Stadium, Swords was not satisfied.
“They played a good game. I’m not going to take anything away from them, but I’m angry right now (and) I’m dissatisfied with how we played,” Swords said. “Mistakes. We fumbled. We didn’t block our assignments. We’re running out of bounds when they have no timeouts. Mental lapses — not getting rid of the (blocked) punt in a timely fashion, we’re waiting for the ball to go 10 yards on the first onside kick instead of going to get it.
“Just a lot of mental lapses that are unacceptable. … We have to play better. We have some work to do and we’re going to get to it on Monday.”
Despite the mistakes, the Class 6A No. 7-ranked Pirates improved to 8-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division, and Ottawa extended its win streak on the field against L-P to seven games.
“It doesn’t feel too good, but a win’s a win,” Ottawa defensive back Lucas Lambert said.
With the loss, the Cavaliers fell to 3-5 and were officially eliminated from playoff contention, but L-P coach Joe Sassano was satisfied with his team’s performance.
“I’m proud of the kids and the way they played,” Sassano said. “The offense was able to move the ball. We were able to give ourselves lots of opportunities to make plays and put points on the board. There was no quit in us. Special teams with the onside kick — that was huge. Defense just played unbelievable. The coaches again had a great game plan and the kids did a really good job executing the game plan.”
The Pirates executed early.
L-P was pinned deep on the opening kickoff and punted from its own 8-yard line on third down to give Ottawa good field position.
The Pirates capitalized as J.D. Bryant broke free for a 56-yard touchdown run on the first play.
Then the mistakes came.
Ottawa lost the ball on a mishandled snap on its second offensive possession, and the Cavaliers turned it into a 2-yard touchdown run by Tyler Thompson.
Still, the Pirates managed to take a 14-6 halftime lead as Alex Hartman scored on a 25-yard run and Ottawa stopped a late L-P drive that ended with a missed field goal as time expired.
After a scoreless third, Ottawa extended its lead to 21-6 on a 15-yard pass from Will Hoffman to Cody Stokes.
But another Pirate mistake — a fumble by Michael Hermosillo, who was limited to 91 yards and no touchdowns on 18 carries — sparked a Cavalier comeback.
Five plays after the fumble, L-P quarterback Zack Cinotto threw the ball to Brandon Pawlak, who broke several tackles to get into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown.
Logan Zeman recovered an onside kick for L-P, but the Cavs couldn’t capitalize as Cinotto was stopped 2 yards shy of a first down on fourth-and-10.
Matt Janz blocked an Ottawa punt on the ensuing possession, and four plays later, Cinotto hit Clay Viani for a 9-yard touchdown with 54 seconds left.
L-P’s second onside kick attempt failed, sealing Ottawa’s win.
The Cavs had several chances to score as they reached the 4-yard line before the missed field goal to end the half and had a pass intercepted by Lambert in the end zone on the first possession of the second half.
“I just stepped up for my team,” Lambert said. “It was really nothing. I was just doing what I do during practice. We had great preparation from our coaches.
“I saw the two outs and I stayed in the middle of both of them and just headed toward the ball, caught it and went.”
L-P also missed an extra point, a field goal and a two-point conversion.
“The pick, a couple of penalties, we kind of self destructed there for a little bit,” Sassano said. “We stayed focused and we kept plugging away. We gave ourselves plenty of chances to win that game, that’s for sure.”
Notes: L-P honored WLPO-AM 1220 broadcaster Lanny Slevin with a plaque commemorating his 40 years calling Cavalier games. … The Ottawa sophomore team won 56-14.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.