ALGONQUIN – Down by seven points with time for one final play in the opening round of the Class 7A playoffs against visiting Conant, Jacobs called a rollout pass.
Quarterback Bret Mooney dashed to his right but had little time to wait for the play to develop and had to toss it toward the end zone as the Cougars’ defensive line collapsed around him. All season, Mooney had orchestrated game-winning drives.
Friday night, the pass was intercepted and the Golden Eagles fell short, 42-35.
“I definitely thought we were going to be able to win that game especially with two plays from the 7-yard line,” Mooney said. “It’s sad for a game to end like that. We have to score when we have the ball that close in the red zone.”
The two teams traded touchdowns almost at will as neither defense could stop the other’s offense. Conant scored on its first drive of the game after getting good field position due to a punt attempt that went awry. But Jacobs quelled any momentum when running back Josh Walker took it 65 yards on the very next play to tie the score.
Walker led sixth-seeded Jacobs (7-3) with 141 yards on the ground on 18 touches and scored three touchdowns on runs of 65, 1 and 15 yards. Mooney also got involved in the run game and after only totaling six yards in the first half, finished with 114 on the ground, including two touchdown runs in the second half.
The tandem rushing attack was able to open up the passing game as Mooney found five different receivers for 225 yards.
Jacobs never led the game but also never fell behind by more than one touchdown.
“We knew we could put up points on them,” Conant quarterback Danny Modelski said. “We had to because Mooney and [Walker] are phenomenal. They’re really good. Good players score points and they did, but our defense came up big.”
While the 11th-seeded Cougars (7-3) scored 42 points, they hurt themselves on offense after having touchdowns called back due to penalties twice, but were able to overcome that due to a shaky Jacobs defense that allowed 410 yards.
But Mooney and Walker were able to find some magic and keep pace with Conant giving them an opportunity to win the game.
“He has definitely stepped it up the last four games,” Mooney said of Walker. “He allowed us to establish the run. He’s a great player and without him we wouldn’t have scored nearly as much.”
Every play went either to Walker or Mooney on the last drive except for two as Jacobs marched 74 yards to the Conant 7 with help from the Cougars.
The Cougars’ defense extended what was Jacobs final drive when a personal foul call saved the Golden Eagles from a fourth and 10 from the 35, but redeemed itself after keeping Mooney from performing any late-game heroics.
“It was a good season,” Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. “Too bad it had to end.”