Buffalo Grove stuns Hoffman Estates with 2-point conversion in OT

By John Bumbales
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/25/2023 10:52 PM

Trailing visiting Hoffman Estates 21-7 entering the fourth quarter things were not looking good for Buffalo Grove in the Bison's Mid-Suburban League crossover football opener against the Hawks Friday night.

But not only did Buffalo Grove almost win the game on a 30-yard field goal as regulation time expired, the Bison somehow managed to pull out a 29-28 MSL victory in overtime by scoring on a 2-point conversion pass to win it.


The contest was wild from the outset as Samuel Cho caught a 99-yard TD pass from Payton Diaz (19-for-33, 282 yards passing) on the Bison's first play from scrimmage. The extra point by Carson Gerhardt made the score 7-0 early on.

Hoffman Estates' passing game was explosive throughout the game as a 3-yard run by Matt Lawson was followed by Emanuel Correa's extra point for a 7-7 tie. The Hawks went up 13-7 when Nate Cleveland (11-for-25, 226 yards passing) lofted a 24-yard TD pass to Xavier Martinez for a 13-7 lead just before halftime.

Then Stephon Sellers caught a 55-yard TD pass 5:55 into the third quarter. Sellers showed great elusiveness on his way to the end zone. A 2-point conversion catch by Oliver Wawrzyniak put the Hawks ahead 21-7.

Cho and Martinez worked their magic twice as Cho caught touchdown passes of 6 and 22 yards to deadlock the score at 21-21 with 4:12 to play. Some crucial penalties hurt the Hawks in the final four minutes as a 51-yard TD catch by Lawson was wiped out by a penalty.

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Gerhardt just missed a 30-yard field goal wide left as time expired setting up overtime. Hoffman's Ivan Rodriguez caught a 13-yard TD pass on third down for a 28-21 lead in overtime.

A 3-yard TD run by the Bison's Anthony Palano made the score 28-27. Gutsy Buffalo Grove got the winning 2-point conversion on a pass from Diaz to Alex Branas to clinch the 29-28 win and set off a wild scene on the Bison sideline.

"The amount of faith our coaches have in us and in the amount of faith I have in my offense is awesome coming out here and just giving them our all," said Diaz. "That first play (99 yards) we had that planned out since maybe four days ago, and that's a school record there with a 99-and-a-half yard touchdown pass to open up the first play of the season."

Buffalo Grove coach Jeff Vlk knew he was going to go for 2 points for the win. "As soon as they scored I looked at our kids and I said we're going for two and we're going to go win the game," said Vlk. "Never in doubt with these kids. It's a great start to the year, and I'm just proud of the resiliency in our kids."

Hoffman coach Tim Heyse knew his team had its chances to win. "Crazy game and we let one get away. They did a good job of disguising coverages and pretty much took away our running game," Heyse said. "They made one more play. It was a good high school football game and we'll learn from it and get better."

The Bison got 65 yards on 13 carries from Matt Maradkel while Palano had 31 yards on 8 rushes.

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