There were no big yardage totals or pretty offensive plays to rave about in Mather’s 15-14 win against Hyde Park on Thursday at Winnemac.
It was a game of defense and penalties that was decided by the sheer will of sophomore Jacob Scott and the Rangers’ offensive line and defense.
The Thunderbirds (4-1) entered the game undefeated, on top of the Illini Big Shoulders conference. They received votes in the Associated Press Class 4A state poll this week, technically making them the No. 13 ranked Class 4A team in the state.
But none of those numbers mattered in the final push. Mather’s offense had not done much through three quarters, but it managed to drive down to just inches short of the goal line with 2:27 to play, trailing 14-7.
On fourth-and-goal the teams collided. Rangers quarterback Zeke Irving attempted to punch it in. Seven of his teammates collided with nine Hyde Park players and the battle was on. The Rangers won as Irving stayed on his feet and made it into the end zone.
That made it 14-13. Mather (4-1) had easily made the extra point on its touchdown in the third quarter, a three-yard run by sophomore Jacob Scott. This time the Rangers went for two and the win out of necessity. Their only long snapper was now out injured.
Scott craftily crashed and snuck his way through Hyde Park’s size advantage to give his team the lead and the win.
“I was scared if I didn’t score I would let my team down,” Scott. “It was challenging. They are pretty big. I had good blocking thanks to my offensive line and I didn’t give up and they didn’t give up. We kept fighting.”
Scott had 25 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown. Irving was 6-for-9 passing for 62 yards.
Junior Terence Young had an interception and key knockdown for the Rangers. Senior John Ho came through with an interception on Hyde Park’s final drive to seal the victory.
“I locked it down,” Young said. “They ran trips, which was real bold and they didn’t get anything with it.”
Hyde Park quarterback Quentin Harris was 8-for-18 for 136 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Running back Jaylin Ramseur had 17 carries for 69 yards.
“We came out flat,” Hyde Park coach Keenan Phillips-Riley said. “I think we probably underestimated our opponent.”
A Mather football player lays injured on the field as coaches and a referee look on during the game against Hyde Park. Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
There were only four officials and no trainer at the game. Several Mather players left the game with injuries and Hyde Park asked for a trainer in the first half.
“Last week we just had three refs,” Mather coach Yanko Jordanof said. “I grew up in CPS and we didn’t have trainers. Rub some dirt in it, put some ice on it. Next man up.