Illinois High School Football News

Ryder Miller scores 4 touchdowns as Ottawa tops Woodstock North for win No. 4

Ryder Miller

WOODSTOCK - For Ottawa’s upperclassmen, there aren’t many things better than hearing coach Chad Gross say the words “playoff stretch” when describing Ottawa’s final three games of the season.

That is except maybe the words “playoffs clinched.”

That’s the position the Pirates have put themselves in after a 33-12 victory over Woodstock North on Friday night.

Now 4-2 overall (1-2 in the Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White), Ottawa needs only one win in its final three games to become playoff eligible for the first time since a magical 2012 season.

“I’ve been on varsity now for three years, and the past two years haven’t gone very well,” said junior Ryder Miller. “It feels great to have four wins in the books now.

“It’s definitely changed a lot since I’ve been here, and we’re a well-rounded team. We’re all helping each other and doing our part. It’s great.”

Miller was a key ingredient to the victory effort on this night, scoring four touchdowns – three rushing and one on a 70-yard swing pass to start the second half.

It wasn’t necessarily a quick start, however.

The Pirates stalled on their first two drives, the second of which ended on downs deep in Woodstock North (1-5, 0-3) territory. However, the Thunder then began to provide a little assistance to get things kick-started.

On the next play, Ottawa’s Alex Perez recovered a fumble in the backfield, giving the Pirates first down in the red zone. Five plays later, Miller scored from 5 yards out to make it 7-0 with 9:19 to go in the half.

Woodstock North faltered again on its next drive, as a high snap on a punt attempt set the Pirates up at the 13. Miller scored again, this time from 3 yards out to make it 13-0.

The Thunder had just 34 yards of offense in the first half and turned the ball over three times in the game.

“That’s the thing. I didn’t feel like we were 21 points worse,” said Woodstock North coach Matt Polnow. “I definitely feel it should have been a tighter game. It’s little mistakes.

“Our kids are always going to put the fight up. We just can’t seem to put four quarters of good football together.”

The Pirates scored once more before halftime on a 12-yard pass from Colby Mortenson to Levi Sheehan, and then blew things open on Miller’s big 70-yard reception on the first play of the second half.

To Woodstock North’s credit, it played a much stronger in the second half, getting two touchdown runs from Jay Zinnen and pulling within 27-12 at one point. The quarterback finished with 61 yards rushing on 18 carries while completing 6 of 11 passes for 30 yards with two interceptions.

Kaden Combs added 52 yards on the ground.

However, it wasn’t enough against Ottawa, which received 134 yards passing on 8-of-13 passing from Mortensen. Packston Miller had three receptions for 36 yards. Defensively, Sheehan and Weston Averkamp had interceptions.

“Woodstock North had a good game plan against us,” Gross said. “They really were taking away our edges. We had to make some adjustments from there, and I thought our kids settled down. I think they put a lot of pressure on themselves knowing we needed this one tonight.

“Once we settled in, I really felt it was a much better performance for us.”