Opportunity knocks for Kaneland
Photo: Tanner Andrews (center) brings down the Sycamore runner as Blake Bradford (left) closes in during Kaneland’s 35-21 road win over Sycamore on Friday. Photo by John DiDonna
35-21 win at Sycamore leads to Week Nine showdown at Morris
by Mike Slodki
SYCAMORE—For the second time in three weeks, Kaneland football had to dig deep for a double-digit comeback.
Dig deep it did, and the host rival Sycamore Spartans ended up in a hole.
Using key turnovers and big performances through the ground and air, the Knights improved to 8-0 (4-0 Northern Illinois Big XII) with a 35-21 win over the Spartans (5-3, 2-2 NIB-12).
This marks the second straight win over Sycamore and three wins in their last four meetings.
For the second consecutive year, the Knights have managed an 8-0 start to their gridiron campaign.
Friday’s win marked the 18th straight regular season win for the Knight crew, with the last loss in the regular season coming two years ago in an overtime loss to Geneva.
The second-half comeback sets the stage for a final showdown between the top two listed Class 5A teams on the IHSA Playoff Points scale: undefeated Morris and Kaneland this Friday, Oct. 21, in Grundy County.
Kaneland won the total yards battle, 398-235, and saw Drew David go 15-for-26 through the air for 283 yards along with two touchdowns and one interception.
David also led the way on the ground with 62 yards and a TD.
Senior leader Quinn Buschbacher had 130 yards on five catches, while teammate Zach Martinelli had 79 yards on five catches.
After an early fumble returned by Scott Baker to the five-yard line, Spartan Austin Culton punched it in for a touchdown just two minutes 31 seconds into the contest.
Sycamore then took a 14-0 lead on a 35-yard scoring strike from Ryan Bartels to Jordan Kalik with 5:19 to go in the quarter.
Kaneland finally got going on a 55-yard TD pass to Buschbacher with 3:43 remaining in the first to close within 14-7. The Knights also contributed the lone second quarter score as David found Buschbacher again on a 24-yard TD pass with 2:01 left in the half for a 14-14 deadlock.
Sycamore’s last visit to the end zone came with 7:34 remaining in the third quarter when Ben Niemann caught a 27-yard TD pass on a fourth-and-six for a 21-14 lead.
A fumble by Sycamore was recovered by Knight secondary member Jake Razo. Kaneland capitalized with a three-yard touchdown scamper by Buschbacher with 2:15 to go in the quarter for a 21-21 tie.
In the fourth quarter, momentum shifted Kaneland’s way for good.
After a Jesse Balluff 3-yard touchdown run with 11:05 left in the fourth gave Kaneland a 28-21, its first, Dylan Nauert recovered the Spartan kickoff return’s fumble, leading to a four-yard TD run by David just 51 seconds later.