St. Francis quarterback Michael Robinson outdueled Vernon Hills quarterback Brett Peterson in St. Francis' home opener Friday night, winning 28-21 on a Chris Smith 5-yard touchdown run with 1:06 remaining in the game.
"We knew they were a good team," said Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken. "We knew they could score. We had our opportunities. They just made a few more plays than we did."
Monken just shook his head when reminded of the game these two teams played last year, in which St. Francis (2-0, 0-0) won on a 2-point conversion with three seconds left. Sometimes history does repeat itself.
The first half was an offensive show by both teams. There were seven offensive possessions. Vernon Hills (1-1, 0-0) scored three times and St. Francis scored twice.
"You can get much closer than that," Monken said.
The two quarterbacks accounted for all five first half touchdowns. Peterson ran for 3 touchdowns and Robinson passed for two others, the last one with only six seconds left on the clock. That pass followed a 47-yard pass to Andrew Brundage, who also caught the very next pass, a 16-yard pass for a touchdown.
This followed a touchdown run by Vernon Hills' Peterson less than half a minute earlier.
"That was the turning point of the game," said St. Francis coach Greg Purnell. "When they went up 21-7 near the end of the half, that put us in a very tough position. Getting that touchdown at the end of the half changed everything."
It changed everything because St. Francis came out in the second half and conducted a long drive for a touchdown. The drive last over eight minutes and was finalized with another Robinson touchdown pass, again to Andrew Brundage, tying up the game at 21-21.
The game may have ended that way had Chris Smith not entered the game midway through the fourth quarter, following a fumble by Vernon Hills' Sam Maloof. Smith ran the ball seven of the next eight plays, the final run putting St. Francis in the end zone for the victory 28-21.
"The offensive line wanted it real bad," Smith said. "They kept saying run behind us and we'll get you the holes."
St. Francis coach Greg Purnell agreed.
"The strength of our football team is the inside five. They get it done," he said.