Eagles soar to overtime victory following late goal-line stand

Eagles soar to overtime victory following late goal-line stand

RANTOUL — Under soggy, muddy conditions on a nearly flooded Bill Walsh Field, Hayden Cargo's fumble recovery in the end zone and a goal-line stand on fourth down sealed Rantoul's 36-28 overtime win over Olympia on Friday night.

In the thrilling Illini Prairie Conference victory — Rantoul's first home win since 2014 — Kamryn Rome plunged up the middle on the Eagles' first play of the extra period, and the junior was stood up by a host of defenders.

Rome, however, emerged from the pile, pressed forward and reached the ball out inches from the goal line before fumbling it. After the ball bounced twice off the grass, Cargo pounced on it for a go-ahead score that put Rantoul ahead by eight following quarterback Angelo Brown's two-point conversion run.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the touchdown put the ball at the 5-yard line for the Spartans, but on a fourth-down play from the 1-yard line, coach Tom Hess' defense stood tall.

"Coach always talks about giving 1 percent more than you did last play, and we all gave more than 1 percent and stopped the ball," said senior lineman Corbin Lantis, one of several Eagles in the pile on the final play. "The D-line did a really good job pushing, and it was good execution."

The conditions didn't do either team many favors, as players slipped and slid all night, and most players were covered head to toe in mud afterward.

"You really had to slow down (while) breaking down," Lantis said. "You can't really just go full speed. You have to break down to make a tackle. ... I didn't think it was going to be this bad. We knew it was going to rain but not this bad. The field is torn up."

Rantoul did not have much of an answer for Olympia star running back Matthew Cooksey, who was a workhorse with 198 yards rushing on 37 carries, accounting for all four of the Spartans' touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving).

Following a 25-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Cargo in the third quarter, Cooksey's 71-yard touchdown catch from Jackson Castleman in third and 32-yard scamper in the fourth helped knot the score at 28-28.