Tigers eye playoffs after thrilling road win

Dupo football players douse first-year head coach Zach Klaustermeier with Gatorade following Friday’s win at Nokomis. (submitted photo)

A touchdown in the final seconds willed Dupo to a 36-30 victory at Nokomis on Friday night, giving the Tigers five wins on the season to become playoff eligible for the first time since 2012.

First-year head coach Zach Klaustermeier and his Tigers squad learned during the IHSA playoff pairings show Saturday night that they will open the Class 1A postseason as the 15th seed against undefeated Camp Point Central, located east of Quincy. Playoff teams are determined by the combined wins of their opponents. 

The Tigers will play at Camp Point this Saturday at 1 p.m.

Dupo freshman Deegan Prater scored the first and last TDs of the contest, starting with a 78-yard kickoff return to put the Tigers up 6-0 early in the first quarter.

Nokomis, which was also trying for its fifth win, tied the game a short time later. Dupo senior running back Logan Stevens ripped off a 61-yard TD run and the Tigers converted a two-point conversion to go up 14-6 in the first quarter.

Nokomis scored on two short TD runs – the team rushed for 333 yards on the night – to take an 18-14 lead into halftime.

After another short TD run put Nokomis up 24-14 at 5:11 of the third quarter, Stevens scored on a 25-yard run and the two-point conversion was successful to make it 24-22.

The score remained that way until late in the fourth quarter. Stevens scored on a short TD run at 2:15, which was followed by a 52-yard passing TD from Nokomis at 1:38.

On the final drive, Prater took a direct snap and ran it in from one yard out with just under nine seconds left. The two-point conversion was good, giving Dupo (5-4) the six-point win.

“The game was what we had expected,” Klaustermeier said. “They were fighting for the same thing as us. Two tough teams, slugging it out. I’m very proud of our guys staying composed and being able to go down the field with not much time left.”

Stevens ran for 201 yards on 25 carries with his three scores to pace Dupo’s offense.

Stevens has rushed for 1,139 yards to go along with 378 receiving yards this season. He has scored 17 total TDs.

Last season, Stevens rushed for 999 yards and had 303 yards receiving.

Last year, Dupo lost at home to Nokomis, 47-0, to end its season.

“We know it’s not going to be perfect and we know that we will have to overcome some adversity at some point,” Klaustermeier said of his team’s mindset throughout the season. “Very proud of all of our guys.”

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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