Kaden Junge’s 32-yard-field goal early in the fourth quarter enabled Mattoon to squeak by a pesky Taylorville team Friday night.
Junge’s attempt hit the right upright and bounced through, giving the Green Wave a 17-14 lead that it would not relinquish.
But early on, it appeared the Green Wave might turn the contest into a blowout.
A gritty Taylorville squad battled back from a two-touchdown deficit to knot the score at 14 before the winning field goal.
Mattoon’s defense held Taylorville on a three-and-out to begin the game, and promptly marched 71 yards down field, capped by a Taeriek Grace 9-yard touchdown run. An interception by Mattoon gave the Wave good field position and Mattoon capped a 40-yard drive when Slater Trier lofted a touchdown pass to Logan Blackburn with 2:09 to go in the first quarter to give Mattoon a 14-0 lead.
Taylorville remained composed. With 9:11 to go in the first half, the Tornadoes cut the Mattoon lead in half on Seth Hughes’ 3-yard run. Several missed opportunities and untimely penalties thwarted any Mattoon offensive success in the second half and the Tornadoes took advantage, tying the score late in the third quarter on a 1-yard-run.
Both teams had difficulty mustering offensive success in the fourth quarter, but Taylorville did take over at their own 30-yard-line with five minutes to play and moved the ball to the Green Wave 20-yard-line. A 32-yard field goal attempt with 12 seconds to play fell short, allowing the Green Wave to escape with the win.
Taeriek Grace carried 20 times for 139 yards and a touchdown, with most of that success in the first quarter. Coach Jarad Kimbro said the Wave needed to do a better job keeping drives going, avoiding mistakes.
“Penalties hurt tonight, so we have some things to clean up before Effingham next week,” Kimbro said, “but I’m proud of the guys, they played hard and earned the win.”
The Green Wave host Effingham on Friday night at Gaines Field.