Joliet West seemed to have its initial win of the still-nascent football season well in hand.
It appeared statistically impossible for the Tigers to drop their Suburban Prairie Conference crossover against West Aurora Thursday night.
But 16 first-half Tiger infractions completely altered the complexion of the game.
Joliet West found a way to circumvent enough mental mistakes to last a season, though, as Carl Bew eluded two defenders in his backfield to score his fourth touchdown of the game.
The 4-yard run with 23 seconds to play allowed Joliet West to reverse its third deficit of the game to earn a hard-fought, utterly unpredictable 35-31 victory in Aurora.
In the first half, Joliet West starting quarterback Bew was directly responsible for 250 of the Tigers’ 305 total yards.
The senior signalcaller had three rushing touchdowns on the ground, including a 69-yard jaunt on the Tigers’ first play of the game, in the first half.
The opening 24 minutes of game action in Aurora almost defied description.
The Blackhawks were adrift offensively the entirety of the first two quarters.
Joliet West was in a different kind of football red as the Blackhawks had negative-10 yards of offense on 24 combined rushing and passing attempts.
Miraculously for West Aurora, however, the Blackhawks were still alive and kicking on the basis of twin scores on special teams.
West Aurora took 7-0 and 14-7 leads as Samuel Stone opened the scoring by returning a fumbled punt 10 yards.
But Rashard Wright had the individual highlights-reel play of the game. Wright not only blocked a 24-yard field goal but also had the presence of mind to scoop up the
ball and rumble 89 yards the other way.
New had the antidote to the two unconventional scores by calling his own number on scoring runs of 12 and 15 yards.
The Tigers (1-3) doubled their cushion to 28-14 on their opening second-half drive as Bew found Jovon Johnson from 4 yards away.
But West Aurora quarterback Gino Martino engineered a 17-point unanswered burst by hitting highly athletic wideouts Andrew Kollich and Terrence Smith on 32- and 56-yard scoring strikes.
The Blackhawks were in a position to climb back to .500 on the season, only to give Bew one last chance with a key stop.
Ninety-yards later, and the fourth Bew ground score on the night broke the ice for the Tigers.