Alden-Hebron knocks off Westminster Christian
Alden-Hebron's football team wasn't to be denied with its season in the balance in Elgin Saturday afternoon
After host Westminster Christian took a 3-point lead with 6:13 remaining on a 9-yard run by Noah Anderson coupled with a 2-point conversion run by quarterback Tannor Park, the Giants embarked on a do-or-die drive.
Desperate for a victory to improve to 5-4 so they could qualify for the playoffs on points, they drove 52 yards in 10 plays -- capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from senior Colten Cashmore to senior Trevor Redlin with 55.9 seconds left -- and held on to knock off playoff-bound Westminster Christian 28-23.
"We knew we had to beat this team and it was such a big game," said Redlin, who finished with 4 receptions for 136 yards and 11 rushes for 86 yards. "I think overall we just realized that we can play against a winning football team. We showed that we can go down the field and drive on them."
Westminster Christian (6-3, 6-2 Northeastern Athletic) was denied a chance to answer when it fumbled the ball back to Alden-Hebron (5-4, 4-4) on the ensuing kickoff.
After two Westminster timeouts, Cashmore burst free for 26 yards and a first down, allowing the Giants to kneel in victory formation.
"I've been fortunate enough to be in the playoffs all four years, but this one is definitely the most emotional," said Cashmore, who completed 5 of 9 attempts for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns."
Westminster was burned repeatedly by the same counter play Ottawa Marquette ran successfully against both teams this season. The Giants added the play this week and used it, in part, to rush for 207 yards.
The Warriors, likewise, adapted the Marquette counter this week for use against Alden-Hebron's 3-5 defense, but Westminster ditched the play early in favor of its familiar inside counter. Junior Xavier Brown made that scheme work, rushing 14 times for a career-best 201 yards.
Brown scored on runs of 59 and 40 yards, the latter of which drew the Warriors within 14-12 with 3:55 left in the second quarter.
Westminster took a 15-14 lead to the halftime locker room, thanks to a 31-yard field goal by Connor James Albrecht.
However, the Giants regained a 20-15 advantage on Redlin's 45-yard touchdown catch with 1:25 left in the third quarter.
First-time playoff qualifier Westminster Christian lost the turnover battle 3-0. More notably, late in the game the Warriors lost two-way lineman Zach Anderson to an apparent knee injury and Park to an ankle injury.
"We've got to get geared up for next week," Westminster Christian coach John Davis said. "Our guys played hard ... I can't be more proud of the guys. Our first playoff berth ever and we did it at 6-3, which is better than 5-4."