RANTOUL — The Rantoul Eagles found themselves in a similar position to last year, tied in the fourth quarter with a chance for a big win. St. Joseph-Ogden was able to pull away late, leaving the Eagles with another close loss.
The Spartans blocked a punt for a touchdown with just over five minutes to go to put the game out of reach beating the Eagles, 22-8. Rantoul head coach Tom Hess said that although it’s nice to be more competitive than in the past, the Eagles don’t want to settle for competitive.
“It felt good to be right there tied in the fourth,” Hess said. “But we are past just feeling good about being close; we want to win.”
The Spartans got on the board first in the second quarter on a 15-yard Coby Miller touchdown run that came on a 13-play, 93-yard drive.
Brayden Weaver scored the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0. The Eagles were able to hold SJO to just the eight points in the first half but were not able to get any points on the board. Hess said the message at halftime was to try and get them to understand they were right in the game despite the frustrating mistakes on offense.
“We were only down eight, but it felt like they thought they were down worse. We felt like they couldn’t stop us, but we kept stopping ourself,” Hess said. “I think everyone was frustrated, but we were right there.”
Neither team was able to get on the board in the third quarter. The fourth quarter ,however, would see a lot of offense.
The Eagles tied the game on a Kedrick Terhune 35-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter, capping a four-play 60-yard drive. Terhune then tied the score with a run on the two-point conversion. Hess said Terhune’s run was a repeat of what they see in practice all week.
“He runs the ball with power and intensity. On the touchdown run he just refused to go down,” Hess said.
SJO took the lead for good with 8:30 to go on a 5-yard touchdown run by Weaver, who also scored the two-point conversion. Then the dagger came. Jaden Miller returned a blocked punt for a touchdown on the ensuing drive to put the final score at 22-8.
Despite the loss Hess was pleased with his defense’s performance.
“Defense kept responding and just kept fighting through injuries,” Hess said “I think we had four to five guys go out during the game, but they just kept fighting.”
The Eagles will now turn to face an opponent they have taken down two years in a row in the Stanford Olympia Spartans. Stanford Olympia is coming off a 26-8 win over St. Thomas More.
“We have beaten them two years in a row, and they are much improved so we are going to have to execute and not be complacent just because we beat them before,” Hess said.
The Eagles needed over-time to beat Stanford Olympia at home last year.
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