The St. Joseph-Ogden High School football team is still one win away from becoming eligible for the playoffs.
The Spartans could have secured their fifth win of the season — the number needed to ensure SJO has a chance to reach the postseason — but could not do so during a 33-13 loss last Friday night at Prairie Central.
The Illini Prairie Conference setback means SJO (4-2, 4-2 Illini Prairie) needs to win at least one of its final three games to potentially secure a spot in the playoffs. Two more wins would lock up a spot as all teams that hit the six-win mark reach the playoffs. The Spartans get their first chance to do so at 7 p.m. on Friday when they host Chillicothe IVC (6-0, 6-0) before an Oct. 18 home game against Olympia (3-3, 3-3) and an Oct. 25 game at Monticello (4-2, 4-2).
Senior running back Jarrett Stevenson rushed for a team-high 70 yards on 14 carries for SJO against Prairie Central, while freshman receiver Ty Pence caught four passes for 35 yards and a touchdown, but Prairie Central (4-2, 4-2) used a strong fourth quarter to top SJO.
The Spartans only trailed 13-7 heading into the final 12 minutes before the host Hawks outscored them 20-6 to come away with a convincing win.
Senior running back Brayden Weaver, who finished with 46 rushing yards on nine carries, scored SJO’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run with 8 minutes, 57 seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game at 7. But Prairie Central, which didn’t complete a pass, but rushed for 347 yards, took a 13-7 lead into halftime after a 1-yard touchdown run by Kaden King with 5:57 left in the second quarter.
Both teams played a scoreless third quarter, but King (4-yard run) and Jacob Niffen (1-yard run) scored touchdowns in the first six minutes to increase Prairie Central’s lead to 26-7.
SJO answered, however, with junior quarterback Crayton Burnett hitting Pence on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 4:22 remaining to trim SJO’s deficit to 26-13, but that was the closest the Spartans would get the rest of the game.
Burnett finished 8 of 24 for 151 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. Senior Chance Izard (53 yards), sophomore Coby Miller (45 yards), junior Brady Buss (9 yards) and senior Payton Cain (9 yards) all wound up with one reception for the Spartans.