Tiger Football Defeats Minooka, Will Host State Semifinals

Sam Lance, Sports Editor

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Edwardsville beat Minooka 28-25 in the IHSA state quarterfinals Saturday, advancing to the semifinals for the first time since 2013.

The Tigers opened up the scoring with a bang. The defense stood strong on Minooka’s opening drive and forced a punt. Senior Rodney Smith took care of the rest, returning the punt for a touchdown.

“It all developed fast and when I caught the punt I knew I had one man to beat,” Smith said. “When I got past him it was all open field and my blockers made big blocks.”

On the following kickoff there was some confusion with Minooka’s return team, and the Tigers recovered the football. Shortly after the recovery, Edwardsville marched in to the end zone to make the score 14-0.

“I thought if we got up early we would be able to hold them,” senior fan Ian Mclean said. “I was pretty hyped.”

However, Minooka was not backing down. They followed with a touchdown pass, and after an Edwardsville fumble, Minooka scored again with a 1 yard touchdown run.

“We just knew we had to keep pushing and we knew we couldn’t give up just because they came back,” junior safety Norman Harris said. “We knew what comebacks feel like.”

Edwardsville responded with a touchdown pass with nine minutes left in the second quarter. Then Minooka kicked a 31 yard field goal to close out the second half with a score of 21-17.

Quarterback Kendall Abdur-Rahman said the team felt good going into halftime, and they knew they would have to come out strong in the second half to keep their lead.

Minooka drove right down the field to start the second half and were threatening to score. However, an errant pass was intercepted in the end zone by Harris.

“I saw the tight end come and roll out and I just covered him up,” Harris said. “The quarterback threw the ball right to me and I picked it off. It was really important for us to get that turnover.”

The momentum received from the interception fueled a long drive ending in a 14 yard touchdown run by Abdur-Rahman, and the score was 28-17 going into the fourth.

With seven minutes to play in the Minooka was threatening again with two huge passes down field, setting them up for first and goal.

A touchdown followed and Minooka converted on the two point conversion to make it a three point game.

Edwardsville quickly gave the ball back to Minooka with a punt. With only two minutes left Minooka had to make their final push. However, an interception by Rodney Smith sealed the game, and the Tigers closed out with a 28-25 win.

Edwardsville will now host Loyola Academy High School in the state semifinal Saturday at 2 p.m.

“We learned that we could play with one of the best teams and that we could beat anyone,” Smith said. “It just gives us a lot of confidence going into this game.”

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Tiger Football Defeats Minooka, Will Host State Semifinals