Sandburg wide receiver Charlie Snorek tries to slip the grasp of Lincoln-Way Central defender during the Knights’ 20-14 win on Sept. 22. Photo by Jason Maholy

Sandburg wide receiver Charlie Snorek tries to slip the grasp of Lincoln-Way Central defender during the Knights’ 20-14 win on Sept. 22. Photo by Jason Maholy

Sandburg can’t overcome flags, turnovers in loss to Lincoln-Way Central

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By Tim Cronin
Correspondent

NEW LENOX – For all the good Sandburg accomplished on offense in its Week 5 matchup at Lincoln-Way Central; for all the decent work on defense: There were a handful of plays that blew up in the faces of the Eagles like poorly made firecrackers.

They did damage.

Those plays, from turnovers to penalties, are what pushed the game in favor of the host Knights, 20-14, before about 2,500 spectators on Homecoming on Sept. 22.

On another night, Sandburg’s 281-185 yardage advantage might have been the determining factor. Holding sparkplug Central back Anthony Noto to 79 yards on 17 carries, with a 23-yard gambol his longest jaunt, would have been a hallmark job on defense.

This time out, that didn’t matter. Nor did Eagles quarterback Anthony Shelton’s 213 passing yards on a 21-of-29 performance. Shelton’s 37-yard touchdown strike to Sean Weisberger made it close with 6:53 remaining, but Sandburg’s climb was Sisyphean.

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Sandburg quarterback Anthony Shelton prepares to launch a pass downfield while under pressure from Lincoln-Way Central linebacker Nick Mitcheff in a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover on Sept. 22 in New Lenox. Photo by Jason Maholy

As a result, the Eagles are 3-2 entering Friday night’s SWSC Blue showdown at Homewood-Flossmoor, whose 41-13 shellacking of Stagg improved its mark to 3-2. The winning team will be one victory from a playoff berth.

Sandburg will the following two weeks play Bolingbrook at home and Lincoln-Way East on the road. They must win one of their next three games against the perennial SWSC Blue powers to head into the season-closing matchup with Stagg with a chance to qualify for the playoffs.

Eagles coach Troy McAllister and his assistants most likely have reminded their charges of what went wrong on Lashmet Field and instructed them on how to correct it at H-F.

“We had far too many mistakes to win a football game, from turnovers to really bad penalties,” McAllister said. “We flat-out got outcoached tonight.”

The turnovers were a fumble on the exchange of the first running play of the Eagles’ opening drive, after Shelton had opened with five straight completed passes, and an interception of a Shelton pass in the end zone by Nolan Morrill late in the second quarter.

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Sandburg sophomore running back Luke Basiorka runs for yardage during the Eagles’ 20-14 loss to Lincoln-Way Central on Sept. 22. Photo by Jason Maholy

The penalties — seven for 75 yards — included a trio of debilitating personal foul calls for late hits and the like, the most egregious of which was a running into the punter call on the Knights’ last drive. Coming with about three minutes to play, it allowed Central to retain possession and they subsequently ran out the clock.

A bright spot for Sandburg, and what made the personal fouls all the more painful, was its second-half offense. After gaining 93 yards in the first half — only 15 on the ground — the Eagles picked up 188 yards after the intermission.

Sandburg cut into the Knights’ 17-0 halftime lead with a 13-play, 80-yard drive capped by a Shelton 1-yard plunge. The Eagles trimmed the gap to 20-14 on a 12-play excursion featuring three third-down conversions and climaxing with the fifth and final Shelton-Weisberger collaboration of the evening.

“They had a really good game plan to stop us in the first half,” McAllister said. “We kind of made our adjustments, opened it up a little bit, and were able to move the ball.

“Our defense did a good job in the second half. It felt like one more possession is all we needed.”

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Sandburg junior quarterback Anthony Shelton scrambles away from the Lincoln-Way Central defense during a game on Sept. 22. Photo by Jason Maholy

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