Speed kills and Tony Durns has it, to burn.
But it might have been the Waubonsie Valley running back’s patience that made the difference on his 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that proved to be the game-winner Friday in the Warrior’ 27-20 nailbiter over Oswego.
“My dad tells me all the time to wait patiently and it will come to me and that’s what happened,” the 5-7 speedster said of his return that came moments after Oswego linebacker Chad Marsh recovered an errant Zach Bennema pitch in the endzone that helped the Panthers (1-1) tie it 20-20.
Coach Paul Murphy had Durns move up because Oswego had been kicking the ball on the ground much of the second half.
This time, though, the kick went long “and I wasn’t expecting to have to run back to get it,” Durns said.
He dropped he ball but didn’t panic, waiting for his wall of blockers to form.
“The return was designed to go right and they overloaded left,” Durns said, explaining how he was able to cut right to the Warrior sideline and run it in.
Big plays were key for Waubonsie Valley, which got scores on a 61-yard run by Durns in the first half and a 78-yard TD run on the option by Bennema early in the fourth.
Bennema’s 43-yard completion to Keaton Casey in the second quarter set up Max Ihry’s 5-yard TD run that helped the Warriors (2-0) take a 13-0 lead at half.
Oswego, though, stayed in it by grinding out two scoring drives to open the third quarter, then took advantage of a mistake to get Marsh’s score.
Connor Cavins (74 yards rushing) and Treshon Weddington (136 rushing) had scoring runs of 1 yard and 17, respectively. But quarterback Steven Frank was under siege all night and limited to just 29 yards passing before being knocked from the game on a hit that was whistled for a personal foul after he threw an interception on a tipped pass in the fourth quarter.
Ihry had the pick and returned it 59 yards, but the penalty brought the ball back to the Warrior 10, setting the stage for Marsh. Frank was sacked three times and his replacement, junior Carter Turnquist, twice on a pair of late possessions.
“We had to get pressure on Frank and couldn’t let him sit back there and pick us apart like he did against Batavia (the previous week),” Murphy said. “We thought we could take advantage of our speed on the outside to get around their big tackles.”
“When you’ve got speed on the perimeter like that we can’t have breakdowns like we made and that turned the tables,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said.