Although Plainfield North is scheduled to play East St. Louis in Saturday’s Class 7A High School football state championship, Fenwick is holding out hope a decision will be made in its favor to rightfully replace Plainfield North.
Plainfield North defeated Fenwick 18-17 in overtime on Saturday, Nov. 19 at Triton College in River Grove in the 7A semifinals.
However, the officials incorrectly ruled on the last play of regulation in a game Fenwick should have won before the play was even completed.
Facing a fourth down-and-15 deep in Fenwick territory in the closing seconds of the game, Fenwick quarterback Jacob Keller threw the ball downfield for an incompletion.
The officials called an intentional grounding penalty on the play and awarded Plainfield North the ball and an untimed down on the Fenwick 5-yard line.
The Tigers kicked a game-tying field goal. In overtime, Fenwick regained the lead at 17-10 on Conner Lillig’s 1-yard run. Dillon McCarthy scored a TD and added a two-point conversion run, lifting Plainfield North to victory.
From the Friars’ perspective, it was a travesty at Triton.
The rules are a game can end on an offensive penalty (like Keller’s intentional grounding); it can’t end on a defensive penalty.
In fact, the officials’ incorrect ruling shouldn’t have even been allowed since the game was over after the clock struck triple zeros.
In short, Fenwick made the right play and should have won the game.
Fenwick has filed a lawsuit against the IHSA in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Fenwick will be in court Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 9:30 a.m. The proceeding will be open to the public.
On Monday, reporters from several news outlets attempted to talk with Fenwick football players via social media or at the school; however, Fenwick head coach Gene Nudo has instructed his players to not speak with the media under any circumstance. . In fact, all questions related to the matter should be directed to Fenwick High School Principal Peter Groom at firstname.lastname@example.org or 708-386-0127 ext. 139.
Preceding the filing of the lawsuit, Fenwick submitted an appeal to the IHSA Board. The IHSA Board convened on Monday morning and determined it would not hear the appeal.
After the game against Plainfield North on Nov. 19, an assortment of Fenwick players, parents and fans pointed out the egregious mistake made by the officials.
Within hours of the game’s controversial ending, Illinois High School Association Executive Director Craig Anderson issued a statement.
Here’s the important portion: “On the final play of the fourth quarter in today’s IHSA Class 7A Semifinal Football game between Fenwick High School and Plainfield North High School, an error was made by the officiating crew, which resulted in an untimed down being awarded to Plainfield North.
“On the untimed down, Plainfield North tied the contest with a field goal and then went on to win the game in overtime. Per Rule 3-3-4 in the 2016 NFHS Football Rules Book, the game should have concluded on the final play of regulation and the untimed down should not have been awarded.
“IHSA by-law 6.033 clearly states that ‘the decisions of game officials shall be final; protests against the decision of a game official shall not be reviewed by the Board of Directors.’
“Given that rule, the contest result shall remain final with Plainfield North advancing to the Class 7A State Championship.”
Fenwick justifiably begs to differ.