3A Playoffs: Herscher 17, Hall 14
SPRING VALLEY – Time ultimately proved too little, and the distance to go a bit too far, on a late potential game-winning drive by the Hall Red Devils Saturday afternoon, as the Herscher Tigers held on for a 17-14 win in the second round of the Class 3A IHSA football playoffs.
Herscher surrendered the ball on downs at Hall’s 21-yard line with 3:18 to go in the game, leading 17-14.
About two minutes later, the Red Devils seemed to be in business, facing second down and seven at the Tigers’ 28. So close to taking the lead. But key penalties set in.
A holding penalty suddenly made it second down and 23 with 40.4 ticks to go, and an illegal man down field followed to make it second down and 28 at the visitors’ 49.
Two incomplete deep passes later, the Red Devils were left with just 13 seconds on the clock and a fourth down and 28, still at the Herscher 49. Hall QB Jimmy DeAngelo passed the ball to James Mautino, but after a bit of attempted trickery, time ran out after just a three-yard gain.
“(We hoped) we could have had the ball a little longer at the end, there,” said Hall coach Randy Tieman. “Because we thought we could run the ball on them, and we did successfully. Situation at the end of the first half, we had short (time) and had to try and throw. We just didn’t get the clock in our favor.
“Penalties hurt us a little at the end, and those are things we’ve talked about. But our kids fought hard and played hard, and I couldn’t ask for anything more out of them.”
Hall took an 8-0 lead with 0:36.7 left in the game’s opening quarter.
Anthony Buchanan’s three-yard touchdown run capped an impressive 15-play, 91-yard drive that consumed 6:52 of the clock. DeAngelo passed to Cole Wozniak for the two-point conversion.
The Tigers notched two second quarter touchdowns to grab a 14-8 lead at halftime.
Matt Dorsey rushed the ball into the end zone twice, from five and seven yards out, capping Herscher scoring drives of 73 and 51 yards.
“We wanted to try and grind it out, get our run game going. That’s what we do,” said Herscher coach Dan Wetzel. “They (Hall) were stacking the box, and we were still able to get some yards in there. So that was huge for us.”
Hall gained only 25 yards on eight offensive plays in its last two possessions of the first half, seeing drives end on an interception and a punt.
The Tigers capped a nine-play, 54-yard drive with a 22-yard field goal off the foot of Jacob Schultz to push Herscher in front, 17-8, with 6:14 to go in the third period.
“He’s worth his weight in gold,” Wetzel said of his kicker Schultz, who ultimately provided his team’s winning margin of three points. “I tell you, he’s been doing that all year. He plays soccer and football and he’s just a junior, so he’s a really nice weapon to have on kickoffs, extra points, and field goals.”
Hall made good over the next 3:47 of clock to mount a nine-play, 64-yard scoring drive. Buchanan reached the end zone from three yards out, but the PAT run failed, and Herscher still led, 17-14.
“We held them to three points in the second half,” Tieman said. “And we should have been able to get another score, and we just didn’t move the ball the way we should have. We didn’t move it in the first two drives (after we scored) like we should have.”
While it didn't score, Herscher managed to take 5:18 off the clock and move the football 33 yards on a dozen plays, down to Hall’s 21 before giving it up, again, on downs.
That drive set up Hall’s final, unsuccessful, 3:18 offensive possession of the 2018 season.
“We made a nice drive. It was a field position thing, too,” Wetzel said. “You’ve got to look at that. I probably didn’t call the best play at the end, there, but it all worked out and made them drive a little bit further than they could. It worked out, thank (goodness), the way it did.”
Herscher (7-4) out-did Hall in total offense, 291 yards to 214. Dorsey rushed 34 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns, while Carter Hendrix went 8-13 passing for 124 yards. Maxx Becker caught six passes for 88 yards.
“I tell you what, (I give) a lot of credit to Spring Valley,” Wetzel said. “They played hard. It was just the (type of) game you’d expect this time of year, second round. It was just a great high school football game, and we were able to hang on and win. It was awesome.”
Buchanan carried the ball 20 times for 96 yards and a pair of three-yard touchdown runs for the Red Devils. DeAngelo went 6-17 passing for 51 yards and two interceptions.
“Anthony is a hard-nosed kid,” Tieman said. “He played well the last few weeks of the season, extremely well. And today, he was himself. He ran hard and played hard. He wanted nothing more than to get onto the next round.”
Hall closes out its 2018 football season at 7-4.
“I just told them, it’s a tribute to them that thy, most of them, a lot of them, played three years for us,” Tieman said of his seniors. “They were up as freshmen in that group (of 2015-16 that went 9-3) and they got some (playing) time (then). They got to go through a little bit of this experience then, and then to come here, they wanted to make a better run than that, and it just didn’t work out for them. They’re a great group of kids.”