MATTOON — Mattoon’s defense went toe-to-toe with a physical Taylorville, holding the Tornadoes to their lowest point total of the season, but the result was still a 16-6 loss for the Green Wavey on Friday night.
The story of the first half was the Green Wave’s ability to control possession, holding the ball for 14:30 compared to 9:30 for the Tornadoes.
Taylorville got on the board with its defense. A blocking in the back penalty negated a 25-yard completion by Jack Pilson, setting up a second and twenty-one at the Mattoon 5-yard-line. On the next play a Taylorville defender was able to get to Pilson, sacking him in the end zone for a safety — the lone first half score.
The second half started out much like the first half. Taylorville was able to find some success moving the ball, going 45 yards in their first six plays. On the seventh play of the drive, though, Odam found Wright for a 17-yard gain. However, a Mattoon defender was able to strip the ball on the tackle and recover. It was the second time a forced fumble and recovery stopped a Tornadoes drive in its tracks.
After a promising Mattoon drive fell short, Taylorville added its second score on the next possession, going 70 yards in 2:55, gaining 63 yards on the ground. It was capped off by an Odam 36-yard scramble. The extra point made it a 9-0 Tornado lead with 9:34 to go in the game.
Mattoon, though, kept it close with an eight-minute drive capped by a Julian Gittens touchdown on a toss play from the 1-yard line. The play of the drive came on a fourth-and-10, when Pilson found Cameron Knierim for an 11-yard strike and a first down after scrambling around the backfield long enough to allow his receiver to find a seam. The score made it 9-6 with 1:34 remaining.
Taylorville, though, scored on the next drive to put the game away. Odam again found a hole and ran 47 yards for the final score of the game.
Pilson led the way on offense for Mattoon, going for 186 all-purpose yards, including 138 through the air on 21-of-30 passing. He also ran 18 times for 48 yards.
“He does a good job for us," Mattoon coach Troy Johnson said of Pilson. "He takes a lot on his shoulders and he is giving us everything he has. What people don’t see is he also plays on defense a lot and is still producing for us on offense. I am glad I don’t have to play against him.”
Also for Mattoon, Gittens had a solid game on the ground, running for 51 yards and a score on eight carries, a 6.3 yards per carry average. Leading the team in receiving was Hoshauer with seven catches and 53 yards.
For Taylorville (6-1, 4-1 Apollo Conference), Odam led the way, throwing for 146 yards on 9-of-14 passing and running for 108 yards on 18 carries. Taylorville outgained Mattoon (2-5, 2-2) overall, 369-315.
“I thought our defense played well except for maybe two plays," Mattoon coach Troy Johnson said. "Other than that we bent but never broke. I don’t think you can say anything about our kids' effort. They put forth everything they had. They will come back next week.”