The Switzerland County Pacer varsity football team lost a tough game on the road last Friday night to a bruising South Decatur squad, 15-14.
After being stuffed on the opening drive, Switzerland County head coach Ryan Jesop said that his troops missed a few defensive assignments which allowed the Cougars to march down the field and put the first score on the board at the 6:20 mark in the opening quarter. The PAT was no good and the score stood at 6-0.
Both defenses stood strong and the teams traded punts over the next 10 minutes until South Decatur was able to successfully kick a field goal, with 5:27 in the second quarter, to up their lead to 9-0.
Switzerland County got on the board moments later, when a forced fumble and recovery by the Pacers put the ball at midfield with under two minutes left in the half. Two plays later Pacer quarterback Damion Courter hit tailback Kyle Whitham on a crossing route, and he proceeded to run 49 yards for the first Pacer touchdown.
The two-point conversion run by Trystan Kielbasa was good and brought the teams to a halftime score of 9-8.
The Pacer defense stiffened up in the second half and forced a fumble on the opening possession, but penalties moved the Pacers out of scoring range – and they were forced to punt. The Cougars were then stuffed on three straight downs by the interior line of Switzerland County, before Isaac Slover used all of his 6’6″ frame to extend and block the ensuing punt, giving the Pacers new life.
Again penalties caused the offense to be unable to capitalize once more, and Switzerland County turned the ball over on downs.
The Pacers were flagged for a total of 95 yards in penalties on the night.
South Decatur extended the lead to seven when the Cougars were able to haul in a 34-yard touchdown reception with 4:27 left in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers again refused to go down without a fight and flipped field position quickly when Courter hooked up with Cameron Niswander for a 52-yard reception. Tough running by Kielbasa paid off when he stormed into the end zone with under a minute left in the game to bring the Pacers to within one point.
After a timeout, Kielbasa’s two-point conversion run was narrowly denied by the Cougars, and South Decatur escaped with a one point victory, 15-14.
“Trystan Kielbasa was a beast tonight and our defense held strong for most of the game,” Jesop said. “However, our inexperience at key positions on both offense and defense, was exposed through penalties and missed assignments. I am very proud of how hard our kids played and gave themselves a chance to win, against a team that has blown them out the past three seasons, but our focus at practice must get better if we want to beat the remaining conference opponents.”
Not only a force on offense, but on defense Kielbasa had 18 total tackles (12 solos/6 assists); and on offense he finished with 102 yards rushing on 12 attempts.
Whitham had two receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown on offense; and had a fumble recovery while playing defense. Niswander had one reception for 52 yards; and also tallied 33 yards rushing on four carries. He also contributed a quarterback sack on defense.
Harrison Griffis also had an outstanding night, with 11 total tackles (8 solos/3 assists).
Switzerland County continues its travels tomorrow (Friday) night with a trip to North Decatur to take on the Chargers. Then it’s back home for Senior Night on Friday, October 13th, when Milan comes to call.
The Pacers will open IHSAA Sectional play on Friday, October 20th, when they travel to take on Eastern (Pekin). The Musketeers currently stand at 2-5 on the season.