By Nate Thompson
The Sailors did not dominate on Friday, but they made up for it with plenty of drama in an exciting 30-24 overtime triumph over Rockford on Friday in front of more than 8,000 fans in their home opener.
As Mona Shores wide receiver Keyshawn Summerville described the game – “Just crazy.”
Summerville hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tristan Robbins with 56 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Sailors what they thought was a game-winning score.
But Rockford continued to fight.
Behind Northwestern University commit quarterback Jason Whittaker, the Rams drove the field and converted a 35-yard field goal with eight seconds on the clock to tie the contest at 24-24 and send it to overtime.
But the Sailors stomped out the Rams in the extra session.
With each team getting a possession from the 10-yard line, Mona Shores head coach Matt Koziak elected to put his squad on defense first.
“It was extremely important to get on defense first, because we wanted to see what they did,” Koziak said.
The Rams couldn’t put any points on the board, because their holder failed to secure a low snap on a 22-yard field goal attempt and was smothered in the backfield.
The Sailors got the ball and ended the game in just three plays, capped by a two-yard plunge by junior running back Sincere Dent to set off a wild home crowd celebration.
“Even if they would have made the kick, I think we would have gone for the (touchdown), because another overtime session was the last thing we wanted,” Koziak said.
Both squads struggled to convert drives in the first half and the game was tied 7-7 at halftime.
Mona Shores turned it up a notch in the third, highlighted by a blazing 51-yard touchdown run by Damari Roberson just two minutes into the quarter.
Robbins had his helmet knocked off on the prior play, forcing him to the sidelines for at least one play.
Roberson stepped in at QB and executed a nice fake handoff to Dee Davis, scooted through a huge hole, bounced to the outside and leapt to the pylon to put the Sailors up 14-7.
Mona Shores made it 17-7 late in the third on a 21-yard field goal by Austin Flowers.
But just when it seemed like the Sailors had the game in control, Rockford roared back. Using short passes over the middle and in the flats by Whittaker, the Rams flourished.
Rockford pulled within 17-14 on a one-yard score by Maliq Thompson with 8:37 left, then pounced on a Mona Shores fumble on the ensuing series.
Whittaker gave the Rams their first lead since the first quarter when he scored on a two-yard sneak with 5:36 left, putting Rockford up 21-17.
Mona Shores went three-and-out, but Rockford couldn’t put the game away. The Rams coughed up a fumble with two minutes remaining, giving the Sailors hope.
After an illegal chop block penalty put the Sailors into a dismal third-and-25 scenario, Summerville made magic happen with his 45-yard touchdown catch, putting Shores up 24-21.
“(Assistant coach Aaron) James repeatedly, repeatedly makes us work on fly routes in practice,” Summerville said. “So I have to thank Coach James for that. I had to deliver a play, since I couldn’t make it happen earlier in the game.
“This is definitely the craziest game I’ve ever played in.”
Rockford followed with the late field goal to force overtime, before the Sailors settled the issue in the extra session.
Summerville finished with seven catches for 100 yards. Mona Shores totaled 387 total yards of offense and was led on the ground by Dee Davis with 91 yards on 15 carries.
Robbins threw for 104 yards and ran for 74 more on 14 carries.
Whitaker finished the contest 15 of 25 through the air for 146 yards, 106 of which came in the second half.