On the Herscher High School seniors’ final Friday night under the lights of Kenneth Seebach Stadium, they were able to walk away winners. The Tigers took home just their second conference win against the Bulldogs of Streator in a close 16-9 battle.
As the sun went down and lights turned on, the Tigers began to get ready to hopefully come away with a win, something they had not had in over five weeks. To much surprise and subtle disappointment, the Tigers’ home bleachers did not fill up anywhere near as much as usual. However, the lack of attendance did not deter the team as they geared up in preparation for their final home contest.
The Tigers received the opening kickoff from the Bulldogs with the intention to be on the board first. The Tigers run game made short work of the Streator defense on the first drive as they worked down into Streator territory inching closer to the end zone. The offense looked to be in form until sophomore Cody Lunsford lost the ball on a run through the Bulldog line, turning the ball over early in the first quarter.
Although the first drive ended in disappointment, the Tiger defense came out looking strong as ever. They held Streator to a punt and sent the offense back out. For the remainder of the first half, both offenses struggled to produce as a second fumble from the Tigers ended another promising drive. The Bulldogs put up the only first half points as they converted on a late field goal, sending the Tigers into half time down 3-0.
The Tigers came out with the same energy they left the first half with as they kicked the ball away to Streator and the defense again held strong to the aerial offense of the Bulldogs. The Tigers eventually were able to drive through the opposing defense and score when junior quarterback Blake Holm found junior wide receiver Talon Jones on a slant route for a touchdown, putting the Tigers up 7-3. Before the Tigers could finish the celebration excitement, the Bulldogs returner brought the kickoff back for a touchdown, sending the offense back out, which resulted in a 25 yard field goal putting the Tigers back on top 10-9.
As the Bulldogs attempted to push through the Tiger defense throughout the fourth quarter, some late game heroics by senior Evan Cox and freshman Clay Schultz kept Tiger hopes alive. On a Bulldog punt deep in their own territory, the punter bobbled the ball, giving freshman Travis Jones just enough time to deliver a hit knocking the ball loose. Cox scooped up the fumble and ran it into the endzone for six, putting the Tigers up 16-9. He said, "My mindset was just grab that ball and run. I'm glad I got to contribute something to the team, and I'm also happy I got the opportunity to play football again and score my first touchdown of the season at our last home game."
As the Bulldogs attempted a final game tying drive, the young cornerback Clay Schultz came up with another big play. On a bulldog hitch route, the ball deflected low off the receiver and Schultz made a diving interception to all but clinch a Tiger win. The Tigers took home a long awaited win and will look to repeat the success on the road against Reed Custer on Friday night.