The Thunder will face Rich Central this week in the first round of the football playoffs after finishing off Rock Falls 23-22 in overtime Oct. 21.
Tied at 16 late in the fourth quarter, the game looked like it would be won in its final minutes. With under six minutes left, both teams put together what appeared to be game-winning drives from deep in their own territory, only to see both end in missed field goal attempts. Thunder kicker Matt Chase missed from 29 yards and was redeemed by teammate Trevor Stinger. Stinger, minutes later, blocked the Rockets’ 30-yard attempt, sending the game into overtime, tied at 16.
The Rockets started with the ball in overtime and quickly scored on a 10-yard pass. The Rockets attempted a 2-point conversion and were stopped by the Thunder.
On the next set of downs, the Thunder answered. Casey Dycus delivered his final 5 rushing yards and first touchdown of the game as he crossed the goal line, tying the game at 22. Dycus finished the game with 193 yards on 36 carries. Quarterback Matt Zinnen also heavily contributed to the running game with 114 yards on 22 carries and 2 rushing touchdowns.
With the game tied, WNHS kicker Matt Chase stepped up and nailed the extra point, ending the game and the Thunder’s regular season on a win, securing a playoff spot.
“I’m proud of this team, to overcome adversity like they did,” said Thunder coach Jeff Schroeder. “We earned back some confidence, and I hope that carries with us into playoffs. Every team in the playoffs is good. There’s no easy week.”
WNHS finished the regular season with a record of 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the Kishwaukee River Conference. The No. 8 Thunder face No. 9 Rich Central at home Friday, Oct. 28, in the first round of Class 5A playoffs.