POLO – A pair of special teams plays and well-timed defensive stops helped the Polo Marcos earn a 29-26 victory over South Beloit on Friday night.
“Our special teams played really well tonight,” Polo coach Andrew Hofer said. “The special teams give momentum to our guys, and the good play pays dividends.”
The win is the third home win for the Marcos this season.
“We are looking to improve, and we have done that this season,” Hofer said.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the first quarter, with Polo holding the 7-6 advantage at the end of 12 minutes.
South Beloit gained momentum when a screen pass turned into a touchdown to start the second quarter. The SoBos led 12-7 with 11:42 left in the half.
Ethan Ditzler returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. During the extra point attempt, the snap was fumbled, but the referees inadvertently blew the whistle, so Polo was allowed to try the kick again.
With the second attempt, the snap was clean and the kick put Polo up 14-12.
With 27 seconds left in the half, a John Hanlon pass was intercepted in the end zone. During the return, the South Beloit player fumbled the ball while still in the end zone, then fell on it, resulting in a safety.
Early in the third quarter, South Beloit was able to score and took an 18-16 lead.
Polo’s offense responded with a long drive capped by a 1-yard rushing touchdown with 6:02 left in the third. A 2-point conversion attempt failed, which left the score at 22-18.
South Beloit turned around and quickly moved the ball downfield to score a touchdown on a 12-yard run to regain the lead, 26-22.
In the fourth quarter, Polo scored on a 21 yard-run by Zach Hagemann to give the Marcos the lead for good.
During the next drive, the SoBos converted a third-and-35, only to have Polo’s Ivan Grogan intercept a couple plays later.
With 2 minutes left in the game, South Beloit had the ball and was driving down the field. A similar situation happened a few weeks earlier when Polo played Dakota. During that game, the Polo defense gave up a touchdown and lost the game.
This game would be different. The Marco defense held strong, and the offense was able to run out the clock when it got a first down.
“A few weeks ago, we did not hold the lead,” said Hofer. “This week we did. This is a step in the right direction. We are teaching these kids how to win.”