FLOSSMOOR — O'Fallon made itself at home in its first trip to the Class 8A football playoffs.
The 10th-seeded Panthers who have qualified twice in 4A, six times in 5A and eight times in 7A during their school history, made the 275-mile trip to Flossmoor and upended seventh-seeded Homewood-Flossmoor, 37-35 on Friday night.
Todd Porter threw for 389 yards and three TD passes to Darius Mosely and ran in two more scores.
Kicker Austin Barnes' 21-yard field goal with 4:06 left in the game gave the Panthers some breathing room with a 37-28 lead.
H-F's Taje Smith ran in a 12-yard score with 2:14 left in the contest to close the gap to two.
But Julian Johnson iced the game with an interception at the Vikings 15 in the closing seconds to end a long day that started with an 8 a.m. bus trip.
"It's been a long day but worth it," Panther coach Brandon Joggerst said. "I would drive anywhere to win, but I wouldn't cross the street to get my butt kicked."
The Panthers (8-3) will host (LaGrange) Lyons (6-4) in a second-round game next weekend. Lyons advanced with a 35-28 upset of second-seeded (Chicago) Marist.
Mosely had nine catches for 165 yards.
The Panthers also were whistled 19 times for 209 yards in penalties.
The pregame speculation was that this was going to be a high-scoring battle since Porter and H-F signalcaller Ronald Johnson entered the game having thrown for a combined 3,585 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Porter threw for 228 yards in the first half, including two TDs to Mosely and ran in a TD to help give his team a 20-7 halftime lead.
He hit Tae'Mon Franklin with a 53-yard gain on the Panthers' first offensive play of the game, shortly after defensive lineman Dewayne Hendrix leveled Johnson for a sack to stifle H-F's first drive.
Porter hit Mosely five times for 104 yards and a TD in the opening half, including a second-quarter conversion on third-and-18 from the Vikings' 49 after the ball was snapped into the turf.
Porter picked it up and calmly hit Mosely for a 37-yard gain and found him for a 12-yard score the next play.
"We feel we can move the ball no matter what the down and distance is," Joggerst said.
The Panthers were 5-of-6 on third-down conversions in the half.
"The key is to stay cool," Porter said. "I try to stay relaxed when I'm in the pocket. I wait for someone to get open. I know that if I have enough time someone will eventually get open and make a big play."
The wild third quarter featured 45 points, including three TDs in the final 2:35 of the period as the Panthers clung to a 34-28 lead.
The Panthers gave up 21 turnovers in the final four games of the regular season and although they had five fumbles in the game, they didn't lose the ball.
Homewood-Flossmoor entered the game outscoring its last four regular-season opponents 168-23.
"We have great confidence and felt like we could make a run," Joggerst said. "This was a great team we faced. This was like a quarterfinal or semifinal game."