CHAMPAIGN — It may be a tough pill to swallow at this time, but even after falling short of winning the first state title in Public League history, Phillips showed that it might not take another 32 years before a CPS team is participating in a state championship again.
The Wildcats were able to stick with Rochester for most of the first half before falling 49-28 in the Class 4A state final on Friday at Memorial Stadium.
Phillips quarterback and Sun-Times’ Player of Year Dewayne Collins scored on touchdown runs of 65 and 53 yards in the first half as the Rockets held a 17-12 lead with 2:33 remaining in the second quarter. That was as close as the Wildcats would get.
Rochester (12-2) rattled off 29 consecutive points to build a 46-12 lead with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Phillips refused to throw in the towel after running back Corey Warren scored on runs of 18 and three yards to cut the deficit to 46-28 with 2:06 left in the third quarter.
Warren proved to be the workhorse for Phillips (12-2) with 25 carries for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
Warren said after the game that it was a tough lost to deal with, but that they will be back. ‘‘We all know we could have played a better game,’’ Warren said. ‘‘We all feel that we took a big step.’’
Collins added 15 carries for 154 yards and the two first half scores, while junior Amani Jones (14 tackles) and sophomore Chris Elmore (11 tackles) led the defense.
‘‘It was hard to get any rhythm going today,’’ Phillips coach Troy McAllister said. ‘‘We made several costly penalties that made it very difficult for us.”
Rochester coach Derek Leonard thought this was the Rockets’ best performance of the year. ‘‘We knew how athletic they were and we put in a few wrinkles to catch them off guard and they worked,” Leonard said. ‘‘They are a very good team.’’
Rochester quarterback Daniel Ziegler was 17 of 31 for 302 yard with three touchdowns and Evan Sembell had 30 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns to help the Rockets capture their fifth consecutive state title.