Evanston’s football team had Proviso West on the ropes for three quarters of Friday’s season opener in Hillside.
But the Wildkits couldn’t deliver the knockout blow and the Panthers pushed across two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 13-7 victory.
Chance Haney scored both Proviso touchdowns in the fourth quarter — on runs of 11 and 15 yards — and led the Panthers with 22 carries for 110 yards overall.
Evanston grabbed a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on a 6-yard dash by senior Arrhian Monroe (18 carries for 81 yards), but failed to finish off any scoring drives after that. The Wildkits were their own worst enemy for much of the game, finishing with 13 penalties for 125 yards.
The young ETHS offensive line was whistled for six holding penalties, making it almost impossible for the visitors to achieve any rhythm on offense. Four of those players were making their first starts on the varsity level.
“We had our chances, and we just couldn’t put them away,” sighed Evanston head coach Mike Burzawa. “And once Proviso West got the momentum, they made some plays. There were some calls that took away our momentum, but there are no excuses. The negatives overshadow the positives tonight. We have a tremendous amount of things that we have to fix.”
A bizarre penalty in the fourth quarter helped the hosts survive a late comeback. A Nate Brown punt pushed the Panthers back to their own 17, but on 2nd and 9 an Evanston linebacker was charged with using an illegal towel — that’s right, the towel didn’t match the uniform colors — and a 5-yard penalty was assessed.
Proviso produced back-to-back first downs to chew up the clock before ETHS finally took possession with 2 minutes, 59 seconds remaining. Quarterback Matt Little hooked up with Brandon Hilliard for a 38-yard gain, but Evanston’s final drive stalled at the Panther 22 when Little misfired on three passes and Monroe was dropped for a 2-yard loss on a running play.
Monroe tallied the first touchdown of his varsity career after a fumble recovery by Ferris Ingraham set the Kits up at the Proviso 24. Five plays later, Monroe dashed into the end zone and Nate Musso kicked the extra point to boost ETHS to a 7-0 advantage.
Evanston had a chance to get on the board again with the clock winding down in the first half, but Little was sacked and fumbled the ball away at the 29. And on their first possession of the second half, the Wildkits penetrated to 10, only to be turned away due to back-to-back holding penalties and two straight incomplete passes from Little.
The junior quarterback completed just 10-of-22 passes for 94 yards in his varsity debut.
Source: ETHS Sports Information