Rockhurst holds off Francis Howell
By Toriano Porter PrepsKC Staff Writer
TJ Green is the son of former NFL quarterback Trent Green - let’s get that out the way - so the similarities are evident.
The physical stature, the square jaw and a live, pass-happy right arm are dead ringers between father and son.
The younger Green channeled his inner Trent Green in the Hawklet’s 25-20 win over visiting Francis Howell in a Missouri Class 6 semifinal game Friday at Dasta Stadium. Green completed 14 passes in 22 attempts for 237 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
The 6-foot-1 inch senior started the game with a 57-yard strike to Lance Boehm to set the tone, then peppered the Vikings defense with spirals in tight quarters, accurate throws on rollouts, touch passes on throwback screens and a few nifty scrambles to lead Rockhurst to the Class 6 Show-Me Bowl November 29 in St. Louis.
The Hawklets 12-1 will face undefeated Christian Brothers College High of St. Louis (13-0) with a chance to claim its tenth state title, which would tie Jefferson City for the big school record.
“We worked all year for this and to actually have it come true is an amazing feeling,” an elated Green said just moments after whooping it up with teammates in a victorious Rockhurst locker room.
Green completed a variety of throws on play-action passes, 3-step drops, five-step drops and a few seven-step drops. He connected with six different receivers on short out routes, mid-range crossing patterns, streaking go routes and precision corner routes; seemingly every route on the passing tree.
“You can’t say enough about him,” Rockhurst head coach Tony Severino said of Green. “There is not a pass that I call that he can’t make. He’s the best quarterback in the state.”
Rockhurst worked expeditiously on their first drive, helped in part by Green’s 57-yard heave to Boehm on the first play from scrimmage. Four plays later Green scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to give the home team a 6-0 advantage with 10 minutes, 4 seconds showing on the clock.
After forcing Francis Howell to punt, Green capped an 8-play, 72-yard scoring drive with a 9-yard toss to fellow senior Jimmy Dixon. An unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt left the score at 12-0.
The Hawklets extended their lead on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Green to senior tight end Nick Bosma, who fought off blanket coverage in the end zone to make the reception. Another missed extra point attempt kept the score 18-0 with 10:04 remaining in the second quarter
Rockhurst defense surrendered a 4-yard touchdown run to Desmond Niboh to make the score 18-6 with 7:58 left in the second quarter.
The Vikings then forced Rockhurst to punt on their next possession and proceeded on a 17-play, 77-yard drive that ended with an incomplete pass on a fourth and goal from the 3-yard line as time expired in the second quarter.
“I can’t say enough about it, but that goal line stand at the end of the half is what won the ball game,” Severino said. “People forget about that, but that was huge.”
Although Francis Howell received the second half kickoff, the lost opportunity before halftime was hard to overcome. The Hawklets forced another punt and regained control of the ballgame with a 71-yard bomb from Green to junior tailback A.J Taylor.
The Hawklets first successful PAT of the game made the score 25-6 with 9:44 left in the third.
Francis Howell took a little over a minute to score their second touchdown, using a 46-yard scoring pass from quarterback Sam Hefner to running back Sutton Smith to help cut the Rockhurst lead to 25-13.
“We talked to them at halftime and told them...we can come back and win this football game,” said Francis Howell head coach Bryan Koch. “What an unbelievable effort that our kids made to come back and make it a game.”
After forcing another Rockhurst punt, the Vikings took over with a little less than 7 minutes to go in the third, but fumbled soon after to give Rockhurst a first down from the Hawklets’ 34-yard line.
Two plays later Green made one of his poorest throws of the game, a pass picked off by Francis Howell’s Kaelen Riddick.
The Vikings capitalized on the gift with a 16-yard touchdown run from Niboh and a successful extra point left Rockhurst nursing a 25-20 lead with 4:27 left in the third quarter.
“I was mad because I felt like I had given the game away,” Green said. “But, knowing our defense and knowing our guys, I knew that we would be resilient.”
The Hawklets stalled in their own territory on a fourth and 5 with 11:04 left in the game, but as they did most of the game, the Hawklets’ defense stood firm keeping Francis Howell off the scoreboard after the Vikings advanced to the Rockhurst 14-yard line with 7:14 left.
Rockhurst tried to ice the game on a fake punt on fourth and 1 with 4:49 left but the Vikings stonewalled the attempt and took over at the Rockhurst 40-yard line.
Two tackles for loss recorded by the Hawklets defense looked to seal the deal for Rockhurst, but a pass interference penalty on a fourth and 6 attempt gave Francis Howell new life with 3:33 to go.
However, the Rockhurst defense atoned with another fourth down stop with 2:15 left in the game.
“They’re effort was outstanding,” Green said of his defensive teammates. “(Francis Howell) had the ball on the 40-yard line and they were able to stop them - twice actually. It’s just outstanding how much fight our team has.”
The playmaking skills of Green, who completed a 12-yard pass on a third and 7 attempt with 1:44 left to finally help secure the win, left an impression on Francis Howell’s Koch.
“He’s a stud,” the Vikings head coach said.
The Hawklets’ head coach marveled at Green’s passing exploits as well.
“That third down pass he made there at the end,” Severino said, “that was a big-time throw.”
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