WASHINGTON — Trailing Washington by a score of 21-7 late in the third quarter, the Morris Redskins looked like they were down and out. However, the Redskins came back, scoring twice in 47 seconds and forcing overtime before besting the Panthers by a score of 28-27.
Morris started off slow offensively going three and out on their first series and then turning the ball over to the Panthers on the Morris 12 in their second possession. Washington capitalized on the second play of the drive when senior quarterback Luke Ludolph hit junior wide receiver Hayden Bodine on a 10 yard scoring strike. The missed extra point made it 6-0 Washington.
Morris answered with a scoring drive of their own, going 63 yards on 13 plays. The drive was capped on a five yard touchdown run by Reese Sobol, and Fernando Del Toro’s extra point gave Morris a 7-6 lead.
That score would remain going into the half, but with a strong wind at Washington’s back coming out of the half, the Panthers took to the air and scored quickly, driving 71 yards in one minute and 19 seconds and scoring on a 10 yard Ludolph pass to senior Brent Brown. Ludolph then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 14-7 Washington.
“The great debate at halftime was, ‘Take the wind in the third quarter or the fourth?’ We sat there and we debated it almost til we walked back out onto the field, and we decided we wanted the wind at our back in the fourth,” Morris head coach Alan Thorson said. “They were able to use it to their advantage in the third, but it was a strategic move.”
After another Morris three-and-out, Washington struck again, this time on one yard touchdown plunge by senior running back Austin Harrell. The extra point from Chris Friend gave the Panthers a 14 cushion.
With the momentum clearly in Washington’s favor, Morris got the big spark they needed on a 67 yard kick return from Collin Grogan. The Redskins were unable to score, but the return flipped the field position.
“It was HUGE, huge,” Grogan said of the return that changed the tides, “I pretty much was thinking in my head, ‘I want this ball, because I want to take this to the house.’ But I had some great blocking, I didn’t have to do much but hurdle the one guy.”
With Washington working out of their own endzone and heading into the wind, Morris was able to capitalize with a three-and-out. They then followed with a 43 yard drive that ended with a 19 yard Zach Cinnamon touchdown run that made it 21-14.
With the wind, Morris was able to pin Washington deep again on the kickoff, and on the second play of the possession Grogan and Josh Lincoln met Ludolph at the line of scrimmage and forced a fumble that was recovered at the one by Craig Claire.
“I just jabbed in and then went out, and I saw the quarterback and me and Josh Lincoln actually caused the fumble and we both hit him as hard as we could and it just popped out. Me and Josh actually hit each other pretty hard and we were pretty dazed after the play, but we were excited because we got the ball,” Grogan said.
Grogan scored from a yard out on the game’s next play and Del Toro’s extra point tied it at 21, where the game would remain going into overtime.
In overtime, Washington lost the toss and Morris elected to play defense. The Panthers were able to convert a critical 3rd-and-goal from the 15 on a touchdown pass from Ludolph to Bryce Wright, but the extra point was no good.
Morris’ possession in overtime lasted two plays and ended when Cinnamon scored from a yard out on a sneak, setting up an extra point by Del Toro to win the game. With the wind at his back, Del Toro nailed his fourth point after attempt of the game to advance the Redskins into the Class 5A semifinals.
“I was just taking it like it was every day,” Del Toro said. “Every day at practice, all I have to do is make extra points. That’s my job, and I kicked it like it was practice.”
Morris will move on to host Springfield Sacred-Heart Griffin in the Class 5A state semifinals.