Riley Patterson’s prayers were answered and thanks to that, the Edwardsville Tigers will advance to the second round of the IHSA Class 8A playoffs.
It was Patterson’s 26-yard field goal on Edwardsville’s first offensive play of overtime which lifted the Tigers to a 23-20 victory over Oak Park-River Forest on Friday night at the Edwardsville Sports Complex.
It was quite a night for Patterson, both good and bad.
The University of Memphis-bound senior also connected on field goals of 36 and 51 yards, but he also had a blocked punt that OPRF returned 30 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 20 with 7 minutes and 59 seconds left in regulation.
Tigers coach Matt Martin decided to give him another chance in overtime and Patterson’s kick was a no doubter.
“Praying, I was just praying that I’d get another chance, especially after what happened with the punt,” said Patterson, of what he was doing during OPRF ‘s overtime possession which resulted in no points. “Coach had told me he was going to go to me right away if they didn’t score, so I was ready.
“Thankfully, my prayers were answered.”
With the victory, 12th-seeded Edwardsville (10-1) advances into a second-round road game next weekend against the winner of Saturday’s first-round game between Oswego (9-0) and Joliet (6-3).
“That was big for Riley, especially after that punt, where he just took too much time,” said Martin, “so for him to come back and kick that baby, I am really proud of him. It shows his toughness.”
Down 7-0 and later 14-12 early, Edwardsville gradually seemed to take control of the game.
Sophomore running back Dionte Rodgers had touchdown runs of 55 and 72 yards in the first half.
Those combined, with Patterson’s 51-yard field goal with 11.1 seconds left in the second quarter and the 36-yarder a little over eight minutes into the second half, had the Tigers up 20-12.
But it became a new game with 7:59 left in the fourth quarter, when slow to get a punt off Patterson had it blocked by the Huskies’ Wesley Cheatham. Sharmore Clarke scooped up the ball and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.
Quarterback Jeremy Hunt’s two-point conversion run tied it.
After that, both teams had an opportunity to score before the end of regulation.
Edwardsville had a drive stall at the OPRF 22, failing to convert on a fourth-and-3.
Martin said afterward he didn’t have Patterson attempt a field goal because of a wind that made it tough to attempt kicks at that end of the field.
The Huskies then marched the ball back down the field and had a first and goal at the Edwardsville 11, before being forced to have sophomore Henry Darrow attempt a 23-yard field goal, which was blocked with 8.4 seconds left in regulation.
Darrow, who was kicking in just his second varsity game, also missed two extra points.
“Those kicks didn’t lose us the game in any way and too be honest, he didn’t miss any kicks,” said Huskies coach John Hoerster, whose team bows out at 7-3. “He didn’t have a chance to kick any of them. Bad snaps, the holds were not there. It would have nice to see what he could have done if we got them down.
“And we just had too many penalties and other mistakes that hurt us. We gave up a couple of big runs that kept them in it early.”
On its overtime possession, OPRF got a 5-yard run from Eddie Gorens on first down. But its other three plays resulted in incomplete passes into the end zone.
That set the stage for Patterson’s game-winner on first down.
“This is huge,” said Patterson of the victory, “we’re still playing high school football.
“We lost in the first round last year so this make me think this might be something special.”
OPRF struck on its opening possession of the game, Hunt capping a 10-play, 72-yard drive with a 2-yard run.
Rodgers put Edwardsville up 7-6 with 2:50 in the first quarter, breaking loose on a 55-yard scoring run on a fourth-and-1.
The Huskies went back in front a little over three minutes into the second quarter, Hunt connecting with Goerns on a 13-yard touchdown pass.
OPRF was soon in position to go up two scores, driving deep into Edwardsville territory only to see a sack of Hunt by standout defensive end A.J. Espensa and a couple of penalties end the threat.
Three plays later, Rodgers was in the end zone again, this time on a 72-yard run.
Rodgers finished the game with 27 carries for 246 yards.
“I got lucky and busted a couple of long ones,” said Rodgers. “And those two touchdowns are a credit to our team. I knew my offensive line had my back. They opened the holes and it was just my job to get through them.”
OPRF’s Hunt rushed for 63 yards and passed for 186. Huskies junior running back Terrance Roundy had 18 carries for 124 yards.
Edwardsville quarterback Brandon Dickmann rushed for 64 yards.
Martin hopes Friday is just the first of a long, but tough road through the postseason for the Tigers.
“I think 8A is going to be really tough this year,” said Martin. “The games are going to come down to a play here, a play there, not much separates most of these teams.
“We were fortunate to come out on top in this one tonight and get to play another week.”