Off all the profound verbage Vienna-Goreville head coach Mike Rude gave Saturday following his Eagles' upset victory over Eldorado, none was more prophetic than his final words to reporters.
"This is why we play the game," the Hall of Fame head coach said.
Vienna-Goreville overcame the battle of beating the better team by holding off a late charge by Eldorado to come away with a 14-13 victory.
With the win, Vienna-Goreville improved to 6-3), while Eldorado drops to 7-2 after back-to-back losses to finish out the regular season.
Trailing 13-7 in the third quarter, Vienna-Goreville's Connor Seavers raced out to a 32-yard touchdown run with 3:15 to play and following a Austyn Frassato point after attempt, the Eagles led 14-13.
Eldorado quickly went to work however, taking over at their own 30 yard line with 8:02 to play in the fourth. Eldorado used a 11-play drive that included four first downs and took advantage of some Vienna-Goreville penalties to get down to the 1-yard line where on 3rd-and-1, Dylan Roberts broke the plane for a touchdown.
The celebration was quickly interrupted by a holding penalty on Eldorado, pushing them back to the 11-yard line where Roberts was stuffed at the line of scrimmage and on 4th-and-8, sophomore quarterback Nathan Burnett's pass was broken up by Kyefer Cavins in the endzone to force Eldorado into turning the ball over on downs.
"We scored with two minutes to go and the penalty got us again," Eldorado head coach Brandon Hampton said. "Mike Rude had his team ready to play and I didn't. We did not play well and that's my fault as the head coach. However, we did put ourselves in a position to win the game. Clearly on film we lost as a result of downs on our last drive. Roberts scored from 3rd-and-1 and was four yards in the end zone, handing over the football, when the flag is thrown.
"It should have been a first down, but instead it's third down from the 10-yard line. We should have had a new set of downs. That call not only changes the game, but our entire season. I have no problem taking responsibility for how poorly we played. Officials should be held accountable for their mistakes."
Vienna-Goreville was able to run out the clock, getting the one first down they needed to pull off the upset victory.
"If you told me we would have held Eldorado to two touchdowns with their three running backs, I'm not sure I would have believed you," Rude said. "(Tyler) Deaton is the man and Roberts is very, very good and he has been since he was a sophomore. Deaton was the game-breaker and we saw him catch two passes against Chester for over 80 yards and two touchdowns. Burnett threw the ball great against Chester,
Page 2 of 2 - I don't know," Rude said. "The kids made the plays and we made some adjustments when we needed too."
Deaton rushed for 171 yards on 20 carries, while Roberts had 79 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns.
Roberts put Eldorado on the board in the first quarter with a 3-yard run and scored again in the second quarter from the same yardage as the visitors took a 13-7 lead.
Vienna-Goreville was led Connor Seavers' 183 yards on 22 carries, while Kyefer Cavins had 37 yards on 11 carries.
Cavins scored on a 57-yard punt return in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-all, while Seavers' 32-yard scamper in the third quarter proved to be the game winner.
Rude admitted afterwards that he put in some defenses this week that Vienna-Goreville had not ran all season and even implemented some of the single-wing offenses that he established in his time at Johnston City.
"We put some of the old single-wing stuff in on Monday and I got to thinking if I event want to try this. It's probably going to blow up on us. This is a game these kids will never forget."
Hampton, who now has the task of trying to get his team to rebound after back-to-back losses in prepreation for the playoffs, didn't hold back on his direction for his club.
"They can either choose to finish strong and stick together as a team or they can complain and moan and keep their heads down and do what they want to do."