By Tim Taylor

The Charleston junior varsity football team pulled out a dramatic win Monday night against Mattoon in a back-and-forth affair that featured strong running offenses, key turnovers, and sacks that led CHS to a victory that was in doubt until the final seconds.

Charleston went ahead 28-16 midway through the fourth quarter after CHS quarterback Luke Bonnstetter had scampered 44 yards on a designed run to the 6-yard line. Bonnstetter then hit Chase Clough for a six-yard TD and another to Jayden Sikorski for the two-point conversion.

Mattoon, though, responded on its next drive.

After a holding call on a reverse, Mattoon answered with fake reverse running play with running back Trystan Sewell slicing through the defense for 27 yards. Wide receiver Isaiah Warrington then caught a long pass down the middle to get Mattoon in the red zone. MHS quarterback Cooper Spencer then hit Sewell for a 10-yard pass for the TD. Sewell ran again for the two-point conversion to make it 28-24 with 4 minutes, 4 seconds left in the game.

CHS anticipated a possible onside kick, but Mattoon kicked it to the Charleston’s 28. After a long run from Perry, the Trojans were set back by both a false start and a holding penalty. On second-and-16, Bonnstetter attempted what appeared to be a short pass to Matheny in the left flat that was not caught. The officials, though, ruled that it was a backwards pass that resulted in Mattoon recovering the ball on Charleston’s 28-yard line.

With excellent field position, MHS attempted to power the ball forward.

On third down, Sewell fumbled on a run around the right side, but Mattoon recovered the ball on the 12-yard line for a first down.

Sewell ran again for three yards on first down. On second down, Charleston stopped Spencer on a quarterback sneak, setting up a third-and-7 from the 9-yard line. Charleston’s Mason Redfern sacked Spencer on a pass attempt.

With MHS scrambling to get set on fourth down, the offense lined up quickly and Spencer spiked the ball, but officials called a false start penalty saying that the center double-pumped the ball.

The penalty moved the offense back to the 21-yard line. On fourth down, Spencer dropped back and threw toward the right side of the end zone, and a Trojan defensive back knocked down the pass for a turnover on downs.

Mattoon had led 16-12 at halftime.

After an initial three-and-out from Mattoon on their first possession of the game, CHS marched down the field from the 50 led by running back Alex Matheny ripping off runs of 10, 9 and 23 yards – the last run resulting in a touchdown.

The Mattoon offense got going right after that score with a long drive powered by the Green Wave running attack and capped off by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Spencer to tight end Kamden Tinsman, who hauled in a pass down the seam from the right slot. Sewell ran in the two-point conversion to put Mattoon ahead, 8-6.

Bonnstetter converted a long play to keep a scoring drive alive in the second quarter. On third-and-30, the CHS quarterback completed a long pass to Jacob Roe to move the ball to the MHS 38-yard line.

Bonnstetter then followed up on the next play with swing pass to Perry, with the running back rumbling down the right sideline to the 7. Matheny swept inside and left into the end zone untouched to put ahead CHS 12-8 after the two-point conversion failed.

Mattoon scored on its next drive after taking over on Charleston’s 37. Sewell took a swing pass to the 14, and Spencer eventually punched in a touchdown from the 3-yard line. Spencer passed to Gordon for the two-point conversion that made it 16-12.

“At halftime,” said CHS JV coach Charlie Logsdon, “I told them they were playing sloppy, that they weren’t playing team football. And I told them, ‘At the end of the night, as long as we played hard and left it all out on the field, the scoreboard doesn’t lie.'”

After the half, the Trojans started strongly. After getting the second-half kickoff, Bonnstetter hooked up with wide receiver Scott King twice – once for 11 yards and then for a 30-yard gain. Malik Perry ran in a TD from 10 yards out, and Bonnstetter followed with a quarterback sneak for the two-point conversion.

With the Trojans ahead 20-16, they looked to be in danger of losing the lead again. Mattoon marched down the field on an eleven-play drive that featured two fourth-down conversions. Down to the Charleston 4-yard line, the MHS running back fumbled, and Charleston recovered the ball.

Towards the end of the third quarter on second-and-20 and deep in their own territory, CHS pulled out a gadget play that had the running back Matheny pitch back to the quarterback, and Bonnstetter hit WR Jacob Roe for a long pass that got them into Mattoon territory. The drive was unsuccessful after the Trojans failed to convert on fourth-and-2 on a quarterback sneak.