FLOSSMOOR | In the Friday night shootout, O'Fallon fired the best shots – and more of them.
The Panthers took a five-hour bus ride, then flew over Homewood-Flossmoor in their Class 8A first round playoff game. The 37-35 final score doesn't begin to explain how.
It started with Panthers quarterback Todd Porter and his 373 passing yards and 36 completions on 21 attempts, three of which completed touchdown passes to Darius Mosely, keeping the Vikings defense off balance.
It continued with the O'Fallon defense, which did enough to keep H-F's attack at bay, even though the Vikings piled up 357 yards, 172 through the arm of quarterback Ron Johnson. And even though O'Fallon committed 163 yards to penalties, the errors of commission were not enough to stop Porter's passing magic from carrying the Panthers (8-2) to a second-round home game against Lyons Township next weekend.
Homewood-Flossmoor ends its season 7-3.
Thanks to Porter, the Panthers had little trouble shredding the H-F defense. He completed five passes of 24 yards or more in the first half alone, including a 54-yard connection with Tae'Mon Franklin on O'Fallon's first scrimmage snap. That set the tone, and for the Vikings, it was off-key. Porter, whose elusiveness kept the Vikings from touching him more often than not, completed nine passes of 20 yards or more overall.
"It's been a long day but worth it," Panthers coach Brandon Joggerst said. "I'd go anywhere for a victory, but wouldn't cross the street to get my butt kicked."
O'Fallon scored on three of its four first-half possessions, with Porter scrambling for a 4-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter, and Porter hitting fellow senior Darius Mosely on passes of 12 and 5 yards. More impressively, the Panthers were 5-of-6 on third-down conversions, the one failure coming on the drive on which they couldn't score.
The Vikings' only answer in the first half was keyed by Johnson's 61-yard blast up the middle. He was caught a yard from the goal line, with Taje Smith barreling in from 1 for a 7-7 tie early in the second quarter.
Johnson scored from the 11 early in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 20-14, but O'Fallon never yielded the lead. A 3-yard completion from Johnson to Willie Ross with 2:35 left in the third made it 27-21.
Porter answered by scoring on a 4-yard plunge. Johnson found Patrick Sheehan, open from 25 yards out, as time expired in the third, making it 34-28.
The last glimmer of hope for H-F, following a 12-yard scoring run by Smith with 2:14 to play, ended when Julian Johnson intercepted Johnson on the O'Fallon 15 with 16 seconds to play.