Oak Forest defensive back Dylan Swan was still in shock after the Bengals broke the post-game huddle, unable to believe the events that had transpired in Oak Forest's 20-13 overtime loss to rival Bremen on Friday night.
For 47 minutes Oak Forest had Bremen on the ropes, controlling the game with its defense and eating up clock with a physical running attack as the two went at it in a South Suburban Blue matchup.
But there was Oak Forest, walking out on the wrong end of what should’ve been the Bengals' fourth consecutive victory to open the season.
Fourth-quarter fumbles from running back Matt Barry and quarterback Kyle Czeszewski, both coming with less than five minutes on the clock, gave Bremen extra offensive plays that they shouldn't have had.
“If we hold on to the football, we don’t turn the ball over, we’re OK,” Oak Forest coach Brian McDonough said.
And the Bengals' turnovers took away from Oak Forest’s great overall defensive effort. In the first half, Oak Forest forced Bremen to go three-and-out on its first four possessions. The fifth possession–after Bremen picked up its first and only first down of the half–ended on a Swan interception. Dominating was an understatement.
That effort carried over into the third quarter as the defense continued to shut down Bremen and helped Oak Forest take a 13-0 lead into the final 12 minutes. The Bengals finally yielded seven points when running back David Smith scored with just under nine minutes remaining. But even at that, the Division I recruit finished the night with a mere 66 yards on 23 carries.
“David Smith’s a good player,” Swan said. “We lost the slants, we made a couple mistakes, had guys in the wrong spot, that’s just what happens.”
Barry fumbled on the ensuing Oak Forest possession, but the defense again bailed out its offense when Swan made his second interception of the game, picking off Bremen quarterback Cedric Clemons’ pass in the end zone. Swan’s interception had seemingly put the final nail in the coffin, but Czeszewski fumbled on a quarterback keeper with 1:19 on the clock, setting the stage for Bremen’s comeback.
After that, Oak Forest’s defense was gassed, physically and mentally. The Bengals finally had run out of energy. They had run out of game-changing plays.
The final score will show Oak Forest lost by seven points, but the real margin was one. One extra turnover. One extra possession. One extra life. One epic comeback.