Senior running back Tom Odell caught a wild 50-yard touchdown pass off of a tipped ball with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter and Oak Park-River Forest came from behind again to beat Hinsdale Central, 28-24, in the first round of the 8A playoffs Friday night in Hinsdale.
Trailing 24-21 on that final Huskies drive, sophomore quarterback Lloyd Yates threw a ball down the sideline intended for senior wideout Ryan Nelson. Hinsdale Central safety Andrew Eck tipped the ball away from Nelson, but Odell was in the right place at the right time, caught the ball, and dashed into the end zone.
Odell said he was hoping to be Yates' original target on the play, but he didn't give up on the play when it went to Nelson.
"I just put myself in a good position in case an opportunity arose, and it did," he said.
OPRF head coach John Hoerster said Odell is a dedicated player, student and teammate.
"That's not luck," Hoerster said of the game-winning catch. "That's Tommy Odell."
For the second time in the last month, the Huskies fell behind the Red Devils by three scores in the first half. Hinsdale Central held a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter before the Huskies scored the next three touchdowns and took a 21-17 lead into the fourth quarter.
Senior Red Devils quarterback Brian Owens hit senior running back Teddy Kwasigroch for a 33-yard score with 2:50 left to put Hinsdale Central back on top late. Yates ran three times for 24 yards on the ensuing drive to bring the Huskies to midfield, setting up the game-winning pass play.
"When we're down, there's no doubt we can come back," Odell said.
Senior running back Jakari Cammon had 169 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Yates ran for 28 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, and finished 3-of-5 passing for 64 yards.
"We finish strong," Hoerster said, "but we have to get better at starting fast."
Owens, who played his last game in a Red Devil uniform, said he was at a loss for words after the game.
"Obviously right now it hurts," the quarterback said. "It's a fluke play; it's a tough way to lose a game."
Owens finished the game 19-of-32 for 215 yards and two touchdown passes. Senior running back Jack Adams ran for 183 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries.
"We played tough until the end; we never quit," Rich Tarka said, reflecting on the 2012 season. "That's what I'll remember most."
OPRF moves on to the second round and will next week face Waubonsie Valley, who beat Proviso West Friday night.