In the end, it was actually the John Curtis passing game that helped the Patriots advance.
No. 5-seeded John Curtis defeated No. 4 St. Paul’s 37-30 Friday night in Covington to advance to the state semifinals next week and set up a rematch against Rummel.
After a furious St. Paul’s rally tied the game 30-30 on a 32-yard field goal by Austin Means, Curtis (8-2) took the ball over at their 30-yard line.
“All I could keep thinking heading out for that final drive was we had to score,” quarterback Brock Hebert said.
The Patriots quarterback helped his team do just that, hitting Travis O’Connor for a 41-yard reception to move the ball into field goal territory.
Two plays later, Devon Benn took it in from 2 yards out to give the Patriots a 37-30 lead with less than a minute left.
“We made critical errors at times tonight,” Patriots coach J.T. Curtis said, “but in the end we were fortunate enough to come out with a win.”
Up 30-14 after a 84-yard punt return for a touchdown by Tahj Bickham, the Patriots had to survive a furious St. Paul’s rally.
Kenny Sears connected with T.J. Bedford for a 37-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 30-20 after a failed two-point conversion. After forcing a John Curtis punt, Sears drove the Wolves down the field again, connecting with Williamson for a 13-yard touchdown.
The St. Paul’s defense stepped up again, forcing another John Curtis punt and the game was tied after Means’ field goal.
Wrapping up his career in front of the home crowd, Sears finished with 355 yards passing on the night.
Sears’ father, Wolves coach Ken Sears said he couldn’t be prouder of his team.
“They left it all out on the field,” said Sears, whose team finished 9-2. “They gave a tremendous effort. They battled back until the very end. I’m extremely proud of them. The effort they gave was fantastic. We just couldn’t get the job done in the end.”
A defensive battle in the first half, John Curtis took the ball 79 yards on its opening drive down to the St. Paul’s 1-yard line before Hebert fumbled to give the ball to the Wolves.
The Wolves saw their first possession of the first half end inside Patriots territory on a failed fourth-down attempt.
John Curtis drove the ball again inside the St. Paul’s 20 late in the first half and lined up for a 29-yard field goal attempt by Joshua Hartley. Junior Christian Roberts blocked the Hartley attempt and senior defensive back Deonte’ Sorapuru returned it 65 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Wolves lead.
After intercepting Hebert on the ensuing possession, St. Paul’s looked like it was headed to the locker room with a lead. However, while trying to run out the clock, Corey Williamson fumbled inside the St. Paul’s 20-yard line. Two plays later Hebert took it in from 3 yards out to tie the game 7-7.