By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
COAL CITY —
If Independence’s Jayci Cozart was hoping to celebrate being crowned homecoming queen at the dance, she was going to have to wait.
Dustin Justice and Brandon Treadway had some unfinished work to deal with.
It took a little extra time for the Patriots to pick up their first home victory of the season, beating Sherman 22-14 in overtime Friday, mostly due to the heroics of Justice and Treadway.
Facing third-and-2 from the 12-yard line, first-year head coach Chris Vicars called on Justice for only the 10th time of the game. The junior fullback, who spent much of the week battling an infection, rumbled and tumbled over an exhausted Tide defense and into the end zone to give the Patriots their first lead of the game at 20-14.
Then something strange happened.
As Independence was running its kicking unit on to the field to attempt the extra point, the holder — Richie Miller — grasped his thigh and fell over the football, bringing the game to a halt.
After being helped off the field, Vicars decided to call upon No. 15 again, Justice plowed through the line and into the end zone to give the Patriots a 22-14 lead.
“As weird as it may sound, I was kind of happy for Ritchie’s cramp,” Vicars said with a laugh. “We knew they were going to try to go for two, and that could have put us at a disadvantage. When Ritchie came off, we just decided to go for it.”
Justice was glad they did.
“That (2-point conversion) just sealed the deal,” Justice said. “The worst case scenario was that we would go to double-OT, but (Treadway) wasn’t going to let that happen.”
If Justice’s touchdown was the nail in the coffin for Sherman, Treadway took the final swing of the hammer.
Sherman’s Bailey Kirk dropped back to pass on third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, but just as he had two other times on the night, Treadway was waiting for him.
The junior defensive back picked off Kirk’s pass, intended for Braden Harrah, running the ball out of the end zone and taking a knee to begin the celebration.
“I was just hoping he would throw the ball,” Treadway said. “I was having a good game already back there, but my defensive front put pressure on him, and I just read his eyes and took it away.”
The win gave Independence a much needed second victory of the season, after falling at home the last two weeks to Shady Spring (14-7) and Westside (50-20).
It didn’t take a professional to notice that the proverbial monkey had been lifted off of Vicars’ back following the game. He was able to coach his team to his first home victory — in front of a packed crowd of Patriot fans and alumni, no less.
“I’m just really happy for our kids. I thought they played tremendous,” he said. “We had some things we definitely need to work on, but our kids played hard and fought hard to get this one.”
Indy could have put the game away earlier but had two touchdowns stricken from the record due to penalties.
“It’s frustrating,” Vicars said. “We’ve been struggling all year to get this offense going, and once we’d get in a rhythm, we’d shoot ourselves in the foot. We’d do something well and then, boom. Penalty. Boom. Turnover. I told those guys if we could stop making those mistakes, things will be a little easier.”
But in the end it was what Vicars said after the game that meant the most.
“Bottom line, we found a way to win,” he said.
A win that Justice hopes will carry them on.
“It was big for the fans,” Justice said. “We just got beat at home twice, so to win this at home in front of all the fans was huge. Hopefully, it gets us some momentum going.”
Indy will need all the momentum it can get. The Patriots arrive in Hinton Friday to take on Vicars’ former team, Summers County, which will be looking for revenge following a 23-16 loss to Covington.
— E-mail: jrollins@
register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.
S: 0 14 0 0 0 — 14
I: 0 6 8 0 8 — 22
S: Braden Harra 16 yard pass from Bailey Kirk, (kick fail.)
I: Chris Mills 8 yard pass from Brian Sexton, (kick fail.)
S: Bailey Kirk 80 yard kickoff return, (Harrah pass.)
I: Brandon Treadway 40 yard pass from Sexton, (Sexton pass.)
I: Dustin Justice 12 yard run, (Justin run.)
RUSHING— S: Tyler Stewart 1-8, Nate Dickens 5-32, Braden Hannah 2-(-11), Bailey Kirk 1-(-8), Aaron Lowe 9-14, Taite Pailey 4-4, Jordan Thompson 3-18. I: Brian Sexton 4-(-17), Dustin Justice 10-41, Brandon Treadway 7-44, Chance Rhodes 15-22, Chris Mills 10-53.
PASSING— S: Bailey Kirk 9-22-5-72. I: Brian Sexton 13-19-0-174.
RECEIVING— S: Tyler Stewart 2-20, Braden Harrah 4-35, Jonathon Browning 1-6, Adam Miller 2-10. I: Ritchie Miller 1-6, Ryan Brandstetter 1-22, Brandon Treadway 4-64, Chance Rhodes 2-30, Chris Mills 4-48, Cody Collins 1-4.
TAKEAWAYS — S: Kris Santonio (FR). I: Brandon Treadway (3 INT), Ritchie Miller (INT), Ryan Brandstetter (INT).