Rummel place-kicker Patrick Vanderbrook was not perfect Friday night, but he sure was when it counted.
With 9 seconds remaining in Friday night’s nondistrict game against Riverside Academy and the score tied at 34, Vanderbrook kicked a 45-yard field goal to give Rummel a 37-34 victory in a game that looked to be on its way to a rout but turned into a nail-biter.
Vanderbrook, who missed the first two games of the season with a hip injury, was 2 for 3 on extra points but 1 for 1 on field goals.
When the Rummel coaching staff was asked what the youngster’s range was, they replied, “That’s it.”
The kick sparked a huge celebration on the visiting sideline and put the cap on a wild finish that saw Riverside Academy rally for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to tie it at 34 in the final minutes.
With 1:23 remaining, first-year Riverside quarterback Gage Larvadain threw a short pass to Tairyn Lockhart, who zigged and zagged his way through a weary Rummel defense for a 39-yard touchdown. Rebels kicker Colton Wilson, who had made four extra points, was smothered on this attempt, however, leaving the score tied at 34.
Taking over at their 20 with 1:23 remaining, the Raiders needed just five plays to drive to the Rebels 29, leaving just enough time for Vanderbrook to kick, and the Rebels to try to answer. They couldn’t.
The Raiders seemed to have this game well in hand for a while, leading 34-21 heading into the final quarter. That’s because they put their faith in another junior, running back Jaelen Sturgis. The 5-foot-9, 215-pounder ran through Riverside’s defense for 219 yards and three touchdowns, plus he caught an 18-yard TD pass.
It was one of only two completions for quarterback Chandler Fields, but he rushed for 118 yards and one touchdown. He also threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Ahmonte Williams returned one 98 yards in the first quarter to give the Rebels their first lead 7-6.
Jaylen Watkins returned another 85 yards for a score in the final quarter, sparking Riverside’s brief comeback.
Rummel finished with 487 yards and 29 first downs.
The Rebels did not move the ball nearly as well, rushing for only 132 yards. Larvadain was an adequate passer, though, throwing for 137 yards on 12 completions. Louis Cheneau and Kash Foley cominbed to rush for 106 yards with each scoring a touchdown.
Riverside did have an honorary team captain for the night in 2018 graduate Nick Rose. The former Rebels lineman suffered a traumatic brain injury in May when he was struck by a car while on his senior trip to Florida and is still recovering.