REPLAY: Rummel stuffs Curtis two-point conversion attempt to take 21-20 overtime win
METAIRIE – It was a game that lived up to all the billing. With a potential top-seed in the upcoming Division 1 state playoffs at stake, a clash of highly ranked, undefeated teams in Class 5A needed more than just regulation time to decide a winner.
When the dust settled, No. 3-ranked Rummel overcame a 14-point halftime deficit and emerged with a 21-20 overtime victory over top-ranked John Curtis at Joe Yenni Stadium.
“We’ve had some years the last few years where we’ve gotten blown out by these guys,” said Rummel head coach Nick Monica. “To beat them in overtime, these guys were confident already, now it just gives us that extra step.”
Patriots coach J.T. Curtis was gracious in defeat.
“Two very good football teams battle to the very end, I don’t think you can ask any more out of high school football game or two competitive teams,” Curtis said. “Congratulations to them, they played well in the second half and we got to find a way to try to win the game.”
Going to overtime tied 14-14, John Curtis won the toss and elected to play defense first.
Rummel took the ball to start the extra period and quickly found themselves in a hole. After missing his receiver for the go-ahead touchdown on first down, quarterback Kyle Wickersham was sacked on second down to give the Raiders third down and goal at the 15-yard line. The John Curtis defense made things a little easier, gifting Rummel five yards with an encroachment penalty to make it third and goal from the 10-yard line. Wickersham then connected with a wide-open Logan Diggs on a wheel route for a 10-yard touchdown pass, giving Rummel its first lead of the night, 21-14.
Immediately John Curtis found success moving the ball. Shane Goins pounded the ball up the gut for five yards on first down and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Raiders moved the Patriots to the 3-yard line.
On the next play, Collin Guggenheim scored on an off-tackle run. Guggenheim immediately held up two fingers, trying to sway his coach into going for the win.
Curtis called timeout and decided to go for two. Guggenheim kept the ball, but the Rummel defense stuffed the run at the 1-yard line to give Rummel the victory, snapping Curtis’ 21-game winning streak and 23-game district winning streak.
“We felt like we had a little momentum going and wanted to take advantage of it right there,” said Curtis on the decision. “They did a great job of responding and keeping us out of the end zone.”
“As soon as they called timeout, we anticipated them going for two,” said Monica. “Some guys stepped up big right there and held them out of the end zone. That’s a tough offense to stop, especially when they only have to get three yards, so hats off to our kids and they just kept fighting and I’m extremely proud of them.”
The game was truly a game of two halves, as the Patriots compiled 214 yards of offense in the first half en route to a 14-0 halftime lead. Guggenheim had 118 yards on the ground, including a 68-yard run on the opening play of the game. Meanwhile, on the other side of the field, the Raiders offense managed just 45 first-half yards.
However, a Donovan Kaufman kickoff return, aided by a 15-yard face mask penalty against the Patriots, put Rummel at the John Curtis 48-yard line to start the second half. Rummel used that great field position as a springboard to two third quarter touchdowns and completely turn the game around, swinging all the momentum to the Raiders’ sideline.
The defense fed off that momentum to stuff the John Curtis rushing attack the second half, allowing just two first downs and shutting out the potent Patriots’ offense for the final two quarters of regulation.
“We settled in and got adjusted to the speed a little bit,” said Monica of his team’s second half improvement. “Some of it was adjusting, some of it was execution and that was stressed at halftime and we played a fabulous second half.”
For the game, the Patriots finished with 297 yards of total offense on the night. Guggenheim rushed for 157 yards and tallied 80 more yards through the air, with a touchdown.
“They took away the inside running game,” Curtis said. “We are going to have to do a job of going back to find out what we have to do to improve that and we’re going to go out and start trying to do that on Monday.”
The Raiders finished with 205 yards of total offense. Wickersham completed 16 of 26 for 120 yards with two touchdowns. Logan Diggs led the way on the ground with 66 yards on nine rushes and a touchdown.
John Curtis (8-1, 4-1) opened the game with fireworks on the first play from scrimmage. Guggenheim broke free on an option read up the middle for a 68-yard run down to the Rummel 12-yard line. Three plays later, Corey Wren punched it in on an 8-yard run off the left side to give John Curtis a quick 7-0 lead with 10:12 to play in the first quarter.
After trading possessions, the Patriots came up big on defense. Diggs was hit in the backfield on second down, knocking the ball loose and Kylin White recovered the fumble to give John Curtis the ball at the Rummel 15-yard line. Two rushes and a holding penalty pushed the Patriots back to the Rummel 21-yard line and threatened to end the scoring threat. However, Guggenheim found Javon Davis in the back of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown pass to extend the John Curtis lead to 14-0 with 11:34 to play in the second quarter.
John Curtis looked to extend the lead on their very next possession. Starting at their own 18-yard line, the Patriots methodically moved the ball down the field with a 15-play, 7 1/2-minute drive to the Rummel 25-yard line. The Patriots settled for a 42-yard field goal attempt, but Austin McCready’s kick was blocked. However, the referees blew the play dead calling a false start on McCready for taking a step before the snap. The five-yard penalty moved the ball back to the Rummel 30-yard line, making the field goal attempt a 47-yard kick. This time McCready got the kick off, but the ball fell short of the goalposts, leaving the John Curtis lead at 14-0 with 2:21 to play in the half.
Rummel (9-0, 5-0) unearthed offensive success on the opening possession of the second half and completely turn the game around. Starting at the John Curtis 48-yard line, the Raiders needed only two plays to surpass their entire amount of offense in the first half.
Following an eight-yard pass, Diggs broke free on a 34-yard run to give the Raiders first and goal at the Patriots’ 6-yard line. After a false start moved Rummel back to the 11-yard line, Wickersham helped the Raiders hit paydirt with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ivory Wilwright IV to cut the John Curtis lead to 14-7 with 10:14 to play in the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter, Rummel’s third drive of the second half was stuffed and the Raiders were forced to punt. However, the punt was muffed by the punt returner for John Curtis and Rummel recovered to give them first down at the Patriots’ 25-yard line. The Raiders wasted no time capitalizing on the turnover, scoring on the very next play on a 25-yard run by Diggs to tie the score at 14-14 with :26 to play in the third quarter.
The score would remain at that for the remainder of regulation, setting up the dramatic overtime finish.
“I’m glad they went for it because we have the best defense in the country,” Wickersham said. “They were able to get us a stop when they needed to. This is my first year ever starting at quarterback. I never thought I would be in a game like this. I love these guys to death and we just beat a great football team.”
Rummel defensive star Donovan Kaufman said the Raiders were resilient and determined to overcome a rough first half.
“We wanted this one,” Kaufman said. “Defense wins championships. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We had to step up and we did.”
While fans will be talking about this game for many years to come, they may not have to wait very long for the rematch, as both teams could square off again in five weeks with a state championship on the line the second time around.
Rummel will look to win the Catholic League championship outright and finish up the regular season undefeated next Friday night against rival Jesuit at Tad Gormley Stadium.
John Curtis will look to bounce back from the heartbreaking loss as they host Brother Martin next Friday night at Yulman Stadium.
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