Monday, September 29, 2008

Edwardsville edges Alton with blocked extra-point kick in overtime

Posted on Sat, Sep. 13, 2008

The Edwardsville Tigers, playing without their starting quarterback and first-string kicker, had the odds stacked against them heading into overtime against the Alton Redbirds.

But the Tigers still managed to come away with a victory as senior Nick Griebel blocked an extra-point kick in overtime, enabling the Tigers to turn back the Redbirds 21-20 Friday in their Southwestern Conference opener.

The Tigers (3-0) scored the first touchdown of the overtime on a pass by sophomore quarterback Chase Westra that deflected off the hands of Alton defender Demarco Hodges to junior tight end Blair Henry.

"Blair Henry had the sense to adjust to the ball," Edwardsville coach Mark Bliss said. "He just had the frame of mind of catching it and getting himself into the end zone. They tried to bring him down at the 1, and he drug two of them into the end zone. It was just an incredible effort on Blair's part. It was a great effort on Chase Westra's part, being a sophomore. This was a huge game for a 15-year-old kid to play in."

Westra didn't know he was starting for the Tigers until two minutes before the game when senior quarterback Ishmiah Roundtree was scratched because of an ankle injury.

Sophomore Tyler Rujawitz, a replacement kicker filling in for Sam Fink, who was playing in a soccer tournament, booted the extra-point. Rujawitz had misfired on his only other extra-point kick in the game.

"We put a sophomore on the spot tonight, and you could see the silver-dollar eyeballs when he had the kick after we scored that first time," Bliss said. "Then we just tried to keep him poised the rest of the game, and at the end of game we just told him that he had to do his thing, and he really delivered in overtime."

The Redbirds (1-2) answered with a four-yard touchdown run by Dominique Robinson on third down of their possession in the overtime.

David Willings' extra-point kick was blocked by Griebel, a senior linebacker who had an all-around strong performance against the Redbirds.

"Nick Griebel was all over the field and did some great things," Bliss said. "He's as good a linebacker as I've had, and I've had four (Division I) linebackers. I think the young man has a shot if he just keeps working and doing what I think he can do."

For the Redbirds, who rallied back from a 14-0 halftime deficit, it was a disappointing loss.

"That ball is not round, and it's not always going to go the way you want it," Alton coach Joe Hook said of Henry's catch. "Tonight, it didn't go our way. The ball hit Hodges in the hands, and they were right there and made the catch."

The Redbirds lost four fumbles in the first half, including a fumble on a punt that Edwardsville's Bryan Reller picked up and returned 45 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

"That was probably the worst half of football we've had in 10 years here from a capable team," Hook said. "I can't say we gave them 14 points, but we sure didn't help ourselves any."

The Tigers got on the scoreboard first after Reller recovered a fumble at the Alton 31.

Westra threw an 8-yard touchdown pass over the middle Will Triggs with 3:43 left in the first quarter.

The Tigers dominated the first half, but the Redbirds dominated the second half.

Alton quarterback Dylan Warren threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Colby Highlander streaking down left sideline to cut the Redbirds' deficit to 14-7 in the third quarter.

Conner Smith had a 33-yard touchdown run to cap a 59-yard drive that tied the game at 14-14 with 4:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Smith had 61 rushing yards during the drive. He finished with 109 rushing yards in the game.

Belleville News-Democrat -120 South Illinois Street -Belleville, IL 62220-2130
Edwardsville High School - 6161 Center Grove Rd - Edwardsville, IL 62025

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