At times overdressed, and at times dehydrated, Sussex Hamilton ruinning back Nick Patterson was never unprepared when it came to the Chargers' impressive 37-20 WIAA Division 1, Level 1 playoff win over area rival Germantown on Saturday.
Patterson rushed 21 times for 236 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a 19-yard TD pass from quarterback Matt Judson as the Chargers (9-1 overall) broke out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back against the Warhawks.
But he also proved to be human.
"If you notice, he had to come out for a series in the first half, he wasn't feeling very well at the time," said Chargers coach John Damato. "He had to get cooled down."
Patterson explained it was a sartorial blunder on his part.
"I was way overdressed, I had tights and other stuff on, I just got too hot, a little dehydrated," he said with a laugh. "I had to strip that stuff off before I could get going again."
And he proved to humble too, pointing credit in another direction.
"Man, you guys should be interviewing the offensive line, because they did all the dirty work," he said.
The Chargers dominated the line of scrimmage, running 65 plays to the Warhawks 36 and outgaining them, 443 to 232.
Everytime Hamilton needed a big first down, it got it, and everytime Germantown made a push to get back into the game, the Chargers offense pushed back.
"Simply put, they played better," said Warhawks coach Jake Davis. "We knew that we'd have to do some different things (in terms of blocking) to get our run game going. We'd scouted them a couple of times, but they're a team with speed and they come to hit."
The Chargers will get a chance to hit again, as they will challenge the bracket's top seed Manitowoc (10-0) in level 2 playoff game next weekend. Germantown finished at 7-3.
"This was a great victory," said Damato, "but it's just part of a journey. Step one."
Patterson took the first major step toward victory on the Chargers' second play from scrimmage. The play before, the Warhawks all-world strong safety and receiver Ben Holcomb had to leave the game for good with a dislocated thumb, and the Chargers took advantage as Patterson exploded for 81 yards off the left side to the Warhawks' 2.
Three plays later, fullback Kyle Schiedemeyer plowed it in from a yard out for a 7-0 lead at the 8:45 mark.
"Nick (Patterson) has just great vision," said Damato, "and when he breaks one like that, he just gives us a lot of momentum."
"That hole was huge," said Patterson. "The offensive line did a great job all day and that was a great way for us to get out of the blocks. It got us into rhythm, we were able to jump on them and we just kept it going."
After forcing a three and out, the Chargers took over on their own 24 and in nine plays were back in the end zone again as Judson sneaked it in from a yard out with 2:57 mark of the first quarter. Patterson had a 22-yard burst on the drive, and Judson completed his first pass of the game for 25 yards to Tony Gumina to set up the score.
In the interim, the Chargers defense gained more and more confidence, forcing the Warhawks' normally efficient quarterback Josh Mongan into back-to-back interceptions, both by junior defensive back Jake Knueppel.
Hamilton cashed in on the second pick to the tune of an 18-yard field goal by Kenny Lo to make it 17-0 with 7:43 remaining in the half.
Mongan would be just 1 for 8 passing in the first half for 13 yards.
But the passing game would get Germantown back into the game, as end Louis Tuszynski hit a wide open Jason Townsend on a 46-yard TD pass one series later to make it 17-7.
However, as noted, the Chargers would not let the Warhawks keep any momentum, going 79 yards in seven plays in a quick 3:10. Judson found Patterson in the middle of the end zone for a 19-yard strike with just 1:45 remaining before halftime to make it 23-7.
Judson would finish the half an impressive 7 of 8 passing for 104 yards.
"I actually thought that we started the half a little sluggish," said Damato. "A little flat at first. I thought we actually did an excellent job in the second half."
Germantown looked like it wanted to make a game of it early in the second session as the Warhawks got a stop and then Mongan hit Tuszynski with a 49-yard TD pass with 6:47 left in the third to make it 23-13.
But then came the turning point in Damato's eyes, as the Chargers pounded out a 13-play, 92 yard drive that started at their own 8. They took advantage of two personal foul penalties on Germantown and converted one third down and two fourth downs before Patterson caught the edge for eight yards and a TD with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.
"We chewed up six minutes there and really did the job," Damato said. "In fact, we scored after both their TDs. That's a real signature of this team. We don't hang our heads (after a bad play). We just move on."
The Chargers got another nine-yard TD run from Patterson after a short GT punt, and Mongan hit Townsend with a beautiful 35-yard TD pass with just over a minute to go to wrap up the scoring.
"We were put back on our heels after we lost Ben (Holcomb), because he's a player who gives us a charge," said Davis. "but they just ran and hit and threw the ball very well. They earned this."
Damato was impressed by the effort.
"The kids just believe in the process," he said. "The program is in a very good place right now and the kids just work and make themselves very coachable."
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