Defending 8A champ Bolingbrook ousted
By Dick Goss email@example.com November 3, 2012 1:50AM
Neuqua Valley back Joey Rhattigan sprints for yardage as Bolingbrook's Emile Wisdom (13) and Parker Westphal (21) give chase. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
OF THE GAME
Neuqua Valley senior running back Joey Rhattigan rushed for 346 yards in 26 carries and scored five touchdowns.
Updated: November 3, 2012 6:22PM
The return of Bolingbrook senior quarterback Aaron Bailey meant the two superstars were on the field.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, the one wearing the Neuqua Valley road uniform refused to be stopped.
Running back Joey Rhattigan rushed for 346 yards in 26 carries and scored on runs of 22, 84, 7, 5 and 53 yards Friday night to power the Wildcats to a wild 44-33 victory over defending champion Bolingbrook in the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs.
“He keeps his feet going,” Raiders linebacker Emile Wisdom said of Rhattigan. “He’s not ever going to take a break.”
Wisdom then paid Rhattigan quite a compliment.
“That was (Joliet Catholic back) Ty Isaac when I played in little league football with him,” he said.
Rhattigan ran behind a monster offensive line that averages 240 pounds and won the battle in the trenches.
“We were just physically overmatched size-wise,” Raiders veteran defensive coordinator Bob Corra said. “Their offensive line blew us off the ball.
“Then there were a couple of times we hit him (Rhattigan) in the backfield and he broke free. That last touchdown, he was stopped and broke free and went 50-some yards.”
Bailey, though, was not to be outdone.
The Illinois-bound quarterback had not played since suffering a right knee sprain on the second snap of Bolingbrook’s loss to Lincoln-Way East on Week 6. Only insiders knew for sure they would be watching Bailey on Friday rather than sophomore Quincy Woods, who filled in admirably after Bailey’s injury.
Although not at 100 percent, Bailey rushed for 210 yards in 31 carries, scored touchdowns on runs of 14, 1 and 20 yards and opened the scoring with a 10-yard pass to Brandon Lewis on a fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard line. He completed 7-of-17 passes for 76 yards and suffered a late interception. He also was victimized by a couple of drops, one a long throw over the middle that may have resulted in a touchdown had it been caught.
Bolingbrook (8-3) finished with 371 yards of offense and 23 first downs, numbers normally good enough to win. If only Neuqua (11-0) had not brought Rhattigan to the party.
Bolingbrook mounted two long scoring drives in the first half, the second after Parrker Westphal’s leaping interception, but trailed 14-13 at the break.
Rhattigan’s 57-yard run set up his 7-yard TD run early in the third quarter for a 22-13 Neuqua lead, but the Raiders were not about to pack it in. They came right back with a scoring drive featuring fullback Jaden Huff (17 carries, 82 yards) and Bailey to get to within 22-21.
Then Wisdom delivered what appeared could become the key play of the night. He sacked Neuqua quarterback Dylan Andrew from the blind side, forced a fumble and teammate Eli Carbajal recovered at the Wildcats 25. Bailey converted a fourth-and-3 and eventually scored on a sneak for a 27-22 Bolingbrook lead.
However, Westphal was dinged on the next possession and his replacement at cornerback stumbled as Andrew found Mikey Dudek for a 35-yard scoring strike on the next play to put Neuqua back on top 28-27.
Back came the Raiders with a 64-yard TD drive for a 33-28 lead with 8:03 left. Bailey’s 21-yard pass to Chandler Piekarski (5 catches, 67 yards) helped set up Bailey’s 20-yard scoring run. However, Piekarski suffered a stinger on the play and did not return.
Rhattigan’s hard running fueled a Neuqua drive to the go-ahead score and a 36-33 lead with 3:04 left, and after an interception, Rhattigan was seemingly stopped but went 57 yards for the final points, anyway.
“This is a tough pill to swallow,” Corra said.