Saturday was a special day for Richards quarterback Hasan Muhammad-Rogers.
It was his 18th birthday and he found the perfect way to celebrate as he led No. 14 Richards to a 34-27 Class 6A second-round playoff victory over Lincoln-Way West in New Lenox.
“I told my teammates it couldn’t have been any better,” said Muhammad-Rogers, who was 16-for-23 for 395 yards and five touchdowns. “We got the win and I get to spend another week with them.”
Muhammad-Rogers’ play continued to draw plenty of praise from coach Tony Sheehan.
“That was a good win for us,” Sheehan said. “They’re a very good team and we’re happy to get out of here with the victory. Hasan is the engine that makes everything go. I don’t think there’s a better player in the state.”
Muhammad-Rogers led the Bulldogs (10-1) to a second-half comeback as they trailed 20-12 at the break. Richards, on touchdown passes of 57 yards to Spencer Tears, six yards to Kenny Spey and 80 yards to Romeo Johnson, took a 34-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. Lincoln-Way West (9-2), which dominated the first half by controlling the ball for more than 16 minutes, cut the lead to 34-27 with 7:49 left but gave up the ball on downs at the Richards 33 with 1:27 left.
“That’s the best offensive team we’ve played this year,” said Richards receiver Ryan Willett, who caught a 17-yard touchdown pass in the first half. “We knew we could come back because we have the quarterback to bring us back and our defense stepped up in the second half.”
The Warriors took the opening kickoff and marched 60 yards in eight plays with Adam Knerr scoring on a one-yard run. The Bulldogs responded the next possession with a touchdown pass to Willett. The two traded touchdowns on their next possession but the Warriors took the halftime lead with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Connor Lowman to Joe Shirley with 2:43 left in the half.
Richards controlled the third quarter and the Bulldogs’ defense stepped up.
“Our defense made some adjustments at the half and they (Lincoln-Way West) didn’t has a much success,” Muhammad Rogers said. “I know our offense can’t be stopped and I knew our defense would pick it up.”
Richards will now face the winner of Saturday’s contest between Yorkville and Lemont in the quarterfinals next week.