With the game on the line, Evergreen Park junior Sean Wilkinson lined up in the slot position on the right side.
He knew his route, knew where and when to break to execute the 2-point conversion. If he was open, junior Jacob Westphal would find him.
The gamble paid off.
Westphal rolled to his right out of the pocket and found Wilkinson in the end zone as Evergreen Park converted the 2-point play for the win in an exciting 15-14 victory on Sept. 21 over host Oak Lawn in a South Suburban Red Conference game.
“We were confident the whole way for the 2-point,” Wilkinson said. “We trusted in our offense. It’s whoever is open. I got off my man and was able to score. I was wide open. Jake trusted in me and made a beautiful throw.”
The comeback win was the third this season for Evergreen Park (4-1, 2-1) which also scored late in wins over Leo and Reavis.
The Mustangs’ fourth win came after three straight 3-6 seasons as the program is chasing its first playoff berth since 2014.
“This team’s resilience when things just kept going bad, we kept coming back,” EP Coach Jerry Verde said. “That’s the identity of this team. No matter what happens, make something happen on the next play.”
With both team’s offenses sputtering in regulation, it took overtime to light the fireworks.
After Oak Lawn scored on a Chris Gallagher 2-yard touchdown run, Evergreen Park had its chance. On a third-down play, Westphal hit William Tharps for the 8-yard strike.
An extra-point would have sent the game to a second overtime, but Verde wanted to gamble.
“On the road and we’ve made multiple mistakes already, you want to give yourself a chance to win the game with the ball in your hands,” Verde said. “We had a play we knew we would go to if we were in that situation. It was just a good football game.”
Wilkinson’s catch at the front of the end zone started the Mustangs racing up the sideline to celebrate the win. EP had trailed 7-0 through three quarters before Wilkinson scored on a 1-yard keeper off a wildcat formation early in the fourth.
Wilkinson loves the chance to do damage from the wildcat.
“I want to bring a lot of energy and confusion [to the defense],” Wilkinson said. “If we can catch a defense off guard with a breakaway, that can change the whole energy of the game.”
Senior running back Myron Harris carried the Mustangs with a strong day on the ground, finishing with 21 carries for 145 yards.
He credited the offensive line of Myles Kerwin, Christian Epps, Jose Arteaga, Reggie Bracken, Derrick Chobot and Christian Rosso for their blocking up front.
“We had to deal with the adversity. We’ve had a lot of experience with that this year,” Harris said. “We had to keep pushing through to the end.”
Looking to seal a playoff berth with a fifth and potentially sixth win, Evergreen Park faces Eisenhower, Argo, Shepard and T.F. North in the final four weeks of the regular season. Eisenhower, Argo and Shepard are all road games.
“We’ve got to keep our head in film and keep studying,” Harris said. “We have eight players going both ways. We have to never miss a play and keep working hard. I was able to find holes today and make some good moves.”