By ISAAC DEER
Silver Lake snapped it's two-year losing drought against Rossville with Friday night’s 22-21 electrifying War On 24 overtime victory in Silver Lake.
With everything on the line, Silver Lake coach Logan Pegram put all of his chips on the table and went for the 2-point conversion for the win in overtime. Quarterback Tanner Martin connected on a bullet pass with Troy Heiman in the end zone to give Silver Lake the victory.
“When I was in the huddle, I asked, 'Who wants to go win it?' ” Pegram said. “I said, 'Troy Heiman, do you want to go win this game?' He looked at me and said, 'sure.' I said, 'Say yes, bud.' He then said, 'Yes sir.' ”
Silver Lake was trailing by 14 points halfway through the fourth quarter, but the Eagles were able to make the correct adjustments to put themselves in a position to win.
“We put the game in the seniors’ hands,” Pegram said. “Our seniors and team stepped up to make big plays. The win feels great and I love the way the seniors stepped up.”
The Eagles had to scratch and claw against the defending Class 2A state champions. The win wasn’t handed to them, they had to fight until the end.
It wasn’t the prettiest offensive performance in the first half by the Eagles. The first play of the game by Silver Lake was a bobbled snap, coughing up the football 11 seconds into the rivalry contest.
Rossville’s defense forced several fourth-down stops and the Dawgs did a stellar job of keeping Silver Lake’s star players in check.
The Bulldawgs perfected the “bend don’t break'' style of defense in the first half. Rossville prevented Silver Lake from scoring twice in the red zone and had an interception by Trenton Barker.
The Eagles' defense matched Rossville’s intensity and grit. Silver Lake forced a Rossville fumble in the end zone and also had an interception in the end zone by Elijah Bames.
Rossville would overcome the soaring Eagle defense with a 6-yard touchdown by Braiden Hensley to give the Dawgs a 7-point lead with 2:45 to go in the second quarter.
The defenses packed a punch for the entire third quarter preventing any points from going on the board.
The Dawgs would hush Silver Lake and kill any momentum the loud crowd had with a 1-yard Kade Perine touchdown. Rossville would lead by 14 with 9:01 to go in the ball game.
“At the halftime break, we had a deep discussion,” Heiman said. “We wanted to change our offense around a little bit and make adjustments. I think those adjustments helped us later in the game.”
The morale boost Silver Lake gained from an Bames touchdown reception from Martin at the 6:12 mark in the fourth quarter was enormous. Silver Lake went nearly 42 minutes without putting up a point on the board, but to the Eagles, it felt like it was a 0-0 contest.
“I trust my guys,” Martin said. “Everyone on the team was going to play their heart out and not give up. We believed in ourselves.”
Rossville would shave off 3:46 of the game clock before punting the ball back to Silver Lake. The Eagles would have to drive the ball 90 yards, score a touchdown and convert an extra point with 2:46 left in regulation.
Martin would make pro-like decisions in and out of the pocket on the drive that led to the loudest play of Silver Lake’s 2022 campaign.
With 21 seconds remaining at the Rossville 43-yard line, Martin would be under pressure. He scrambled to his left, circled to his right, threw it off of his bac kfoot and zipped the ball in the corner of the end zone to find freshman Dayne Johnson.
“It’s awesome because we put in the work against our rivals,” Johnson said. “We trust our quarterback, receivers and line to get the job done.”
That touchdown pass and extra point conversion would send the remarkable game into overtime.
Rossville would win the overtime flip and decided to take the ball.
It took the Dawgs two smooth and easy plays to get the touchdown. Hensley would run it in from 3 yards out on an end-around sweep. The extra point by Caiden Leistenschneid would be good and Rossville would lead, 21-14.
Silver Lake needed a touchdown and the extra point in overtime to at least tie the defending state champions.
On second down, Martin would throw the ball over the middle into the hands of Heiman for a touchdown to decrease Rossville’s lead to just a point.
Pegram called a time out to mull over the decision of whether to take the easy point or do it the hard way for a chance to win the game.
Pegram would send out the Eagle offense in the nail-biting and stomach-turning situation.
The Eagles would run a similar play to win the game as they did to get into overtime. Martin would deliver the pass to the middle of the end zone right to the hands of Heiman.
“As soon as I caught that, I got a wave of an adrenaline rush,” Heiman said. “I honestly don’t remember what happened after I caught the pass. I thought I was going to fall on the track. I was just excited to get the win.”
SILVER LAKE 22, ROSSVILLE 21 (OT)
Rossville (2-3) 0 7 0 7 7 – 21
Silver Lake (3-2) 0 0 0 14 8– 22
Rossville – Hensley 6 run (Leistenschneid kick)
Rossville – Perine 1 run (Leistenschneid kick)
Silver Lake – Barne 2 pass from Martin (Schooler kick)
Silver Lake – Johnson 43 pass from Martin (Schooler kick)
Rossville – Hensley 3 run (Leistenschneid kick)
Silver Lake – Heiman 10 pass from Martin (Heiman pass from Martin)
Rushing – Silver Lake: Martin 15-81, Redmond 7-18, Renfro 1-0, Bames 1-(minus)-4. Rossville: Perine 22-87-1, Horak 17-48, Hensley 9-70-2.
Passing – Silver Lake: Martin 18-35-3 276 yards, Schooler 0-1 0 yards. Rossville: Horak 11-18 141 yards.
Receiving – Silver Lake: Heiman 9-112, Bames 3-82, Stithem 3-28, Redmond 2-11, Johnson 1-43. Rossville: Hensley 6-57, Perine 3-46, Donovan 2-38.