METAMORA – It was just the way he envisioned it – game on the line, coming through in the clutch.
Morris kicker Jake Reed’s first game-winning field goal couldn’t have come at a better time for Redskins fans, either.
“The stomach was going, but I told myself that I knew what to do. I’ve been through it a million times,” Reed said. “Watching that go through the uprights is a feeling I’ll never forget. It was amazing.”
Reed’s 35-yard field goal with 2:48 left in the game against the Redbirds provided the margin of victory for the Redskins on Friday with the locals coming away with a 17-14 win.
“My hat’s off to the kid,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “His first varsity field goal is a game-winner.”
While that moment is the enduring one coming out of Friday night’s victory, it never would have come about had there not been a huge change of momentum a little more than five minutes earlier. Metamora was driving and knocking at the door for a go-ahead score when the Redskins forced the only turnover of the game. It came at the Redskins 10-yard line and ended with Jake Walker landing on a fumble by Ryan Patterson.
“The turnover was huge. My hat is off to the whole defense,” Thorson said. “That’s what a Morris defense is supposed to do, come up with big stops when we need them to.”
With the game tied at 14-all, 8:26 remaining in regulation and the ball resting on their own 6, the Redskins put together their most impressive drive of the season. Utilizing the wildcat offense with Walker as the quarterback, Morris went 77 yards in 10 plays over 5:40 to set up the deciding field goal.
“What a huge drive for this offense. It’s a real confidence booster for these kids,” Thorson said. “We struggled to move the ball at times [Friday], so to march the length of the field and get all the way down there was just huge.”
It’s the first time that Morris showed it had the wildcat formation in its offensive arsenal.
“Kaneland had a lot of success with it [wildcat] against us last year. For us, having Walker as a scatback, it’s sometimes easier to get him the ball that way with a direct snap to him,” Morris offensive coordinator Bill Lauer said. “We have the fullback blocking up front and he also had a long run on the counter.
“We only ran three or four plays because we didn’t want to show everything we have in it, but we had to make sure that we also gained the yards that we needed. A couple of sweeps and a couple of double leads and it worked.”
The big play in the drive was a 42-yard run by fullback Matt Feiden. That came six plays before Reed’s kick.
“Coach Lauer and I talked about it [the wildcat] over the headset in the second quarter and thought that we should wait until the second half to show it. That way Metamora could make an adjustment to it at halftime,” Thorson said. “We’ve been practicing it and it has looked good. It’s a chance to get the ball into Walker’s hands, which is good because he is one of our best athletes.”
After being held in check on opening day by Minooka, Walker broke loose for 164 yards on 18 carries, including a 71-yard TD run in the first quarter. He also added a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter.
“The line played a heck of a game tonight,” Walker said. “We were really confident during that last drive. We also knew that Jake has been kicking the ball really good in practice, so I had a pretty good feeling he was going to hit it.”
Metamora did have time for a final drive and did drive 46 yards before the Morris defense snuffed it out.
The Redskins are now 1-1 and play at Geneseo on Friday.
“I loved the way these kids responded. This team showed character today and they stepped up,” Thorson said. “The kids are getting it. I was very happy to see them take a huge step forward tonight.”