Calvin Zola and Paterson struck brilliant second-half goals to help Rowett celebrate his December manager of the month award in style after Ryan Jarvis had given the visitors a deserved lead in the first half.
But it was Rowett's men who claimed a fourth successive home victory to move back into the play-off places when Paterson came off the bench to lash home a stunning 22-yard shot in the 84th minute.
Rowett said: "We looked a little bit leggy at times in the first half and didn't play with the tempo we'd showed in recent home games.
"Torquay are a good side with bags of energy and I still think they'll be up there around the play-off places come the end of the season.
"But we knew they have a tendency to concede late goals so we just said at half-time that we just needed to keep trying to do the right things.
"I always thought that if we got one, we'd definitely get another.
"And I think what you've seen - and it's the first time in a while - that someone has come off the bench and changed the game.
"I don't think you'll see a better goal anywhere in the country than the one scored by Matt Paterson that won us this game."
- Sports & Recreation