“I’ve been coaching for 26 years, and this game was one the best I’ve been associated with.”, said Head Coach John Barron. “Our kids just never quit when they’ve could of. We made some incredible big plays down the stretch and into overtime for that fact.”
The game didn’t start out the way the Rockies were hoping for. One their first possession of the contest the Rockies marched down field for a 1st and goal scenario and finished four and out.
“Credit Riley’s defense, they were just more physical than us on those run stops. We should of punched it in but didn’t. Then they go down the field and score on us. That was tough to swallow early in the game.”, said Barron.
Riley had 9 plays for 96 yards for that drive that chewed up 4:00 of clock for a 7-0 lead. The very next Rockie possession resulted in one first down, a fumble and a quarterback sack by Riley’s defense forcing a Plymouth punt to the Riley 43 yard line. Six plays later Daigien Morgan hit receiver Reontre Lawerence in the end zone on a 44 yard passing play to increase the Wildcat lead to 14-0 at the 10:31 mark of the second quarter.
Rockies didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 1:50 mark of quarter two. It was their fourth possession of the night in which long runs by Micheal Hartman of 20 & 16 yards kept the drive going. Plymouth got the football down to the five yard line when sophomore quarterback, Jack Barron scampered in from five yards out to get Plymouth on the board, still trailing 14-7 into halftime.
“Our kids knew things needed to change in the 2nd half. They were happy with their performance but I felt we were playing well despite being down. We were having some trouble tackling Morgan and Capers, while getting beat on the corners by Lawerence. We made very little adjustments coming out of half. I was confident in them getting us back in the game.”, said Barron.
It was a fast third quarter with each team have a couple of possessions for both teams but nothing that threatening.
After a scoreless 3rd quarter, the offense showed up in the 4th quarter. On the 8th possession of the game, Plymouth started from their own five yard line, Barron dropped back in the endzone, got pressured, threw the football upfield near the 10 yard line where it was intercepted by lineback Jesus Lopez who returned back for a pick-six to make the score 21-7 with 8:38 left in the ballgame.
The Rockies needing a answer started their drive from their own 49, were helped down field on a 20 yard passing play to Justin Drudge to the Riley 14 yard line. Micheal Hartman ran it in from there to cut the Riley lead in half to 21-14.
“Justin Drudge came up with some big plays all game long. His catch with three defenders around him was impressive.”, said Barron.
Following the touchdown Jacob Lafree kicked a perfect onside ball which Plymouth recovered and was looking for the tie. “He (Lafree) has always been a great kicker for us. He just paced the ball where it needed to go & we recovered. Even though we didn’t score on that sequence, momentum was back on our side.”, added Baron.
After stopping Riley’s ninth possession of the game, the Rockies needed to score for the tie. The drive started with 2:45 left in the ballgame. Despite a 2nd down fumble recovery by Plymouth, Barron hit Briles on a 4th and 6 for 9 yards to extend the drive. Then Barron threw again, this time to Justin Drudge who caught his second pass of the drive for another first down play to the Plymouth 48 yard line. After a 5 yard run by Elliot Eads, one of the biggest pass completions of the season happened when Drudge found a seam up the middle and Barron hit him between the numbers while three Wildcat defenders surrounded him for a 34 yard passing play and another Rockie first down with 15 seconds left in regulation. An incomplete pass to Eads chewed six seconds off the clock. Then offensive coach Mike Kershner pulled a rabbit out of the hat, when he called a halfback pass from Justin Drudge to Trent Briles, who leaped in the air and came down with football and two defenders on him, to eventually tie the game with nine seconds left.
The Rockies defense held Riley in the closing seconds to get into overtime tied at 21 apiece.
The Rockies had the football for the first possession in OT. Three plays later Justin Drudge ran the left edge to get in the end zone and give the Rockies the early lead. Extra point by Lafree made it 28-21 Plymouth.
Riley’s turn. On their first play, it was Tight End dump over the middle that was almost picked off by Safety Micheal Garrity. 2nd and 10 for South Bend seen a one yard run by Thomas Capers setting up a 3rd and 9 for Riley. Morgan on third down tried a quick hitter to his runningback Capers which went incomplete to set up the final play of the game.
“At this point we are really focusing on two players…..Morgan & Capers and getting pressure while holding containment.”, said Barron.
Here it is 4th and Goal from the 9 yard line, Plymouth leading by a touchdown in Overtime…..Morgan dropped back to throw a fade pass to 6’1-WR-Reontre Lawarence who leaped up and came down with the ball UNTIL…he hit ground. Pass incomplete….Rockies hold on for the win.
“John Stillson made the final defensive play that was simply amazing as he literally punched out the football from the receiver’s hands to make the play go incomplete. That’s how intelligent Stillson is. That’s just unbelievable play for the win. This whole night was a night of “MUST” plays for us. We had to make those catches in the fourth quarter just to get back in the game. We did. I’m so proud of the effort from our team. We beat a really good team tonight.”, finished Barron.
Rockies are back at the Rockpile next Friday night when they face undefeated New Prairie (10-0). WTCA sports will bring you all the action.