Photo: Ryan Lawrence intercepts a pass in the first quarter. Photo by Patti Wilk
Rushing, D just the combination for 41-0 win at Streator
by Mike Slodki
STREATOR, Ill.—You’ll have to excuse the Kaneland Knights’ football squad for being defensive.
After all, that’s what worked on Friday night.
Traveling south on Route 23, the victory tour rested at Streator High School, where KHS was too much for the winless host Bulldogs in a 41-0 decision.
Kaneland set the tone on the ground and saw power rushes from Jesse Balluff (95 yards rushing), Nate Dyer and trackster-like speed from Dylan Nauert on separate touchdown runs, while the defense was physical and opportunistic—exemplified by a Ryan Lawrence interception return for a touchdown.
KHS made tracks with 287 yards rushing, with the Knight swarm allowing just 110 yards against its crossover foe from the Northern Illinois Big XII West division.
For Kaneland, the regular season win streak hit 23, while Streator’s opposite trajectory hit 22 on the loss streak after Friday.
KHS has now won 28 out of its last 30 contests.
Kaneland has not allowed a score since the final seconds of the win over Huntley on Aug. 31.
For the second week in a row, the running clock clicked in with 4:53 remaining in the second quarter, after Lawrence leaped in the air to grab an errant pass and weaved around blockers to convert on a 34-yard interception touchdown.
“I get a lot of practice with carrying the ball during practice,” Lawrence said. “With the mentality, I had to switch over quick from defense, and it wasn’t a hard task to do. With our defense setting up blocks, it made it so much easier.”
On the opening drive, the last six plays were all Jesse Balluff rushes on the 75-yard drive. It came to an end on a 10-yard scoring run with 8:14 left in the first.
When Streator came up empty on the next drive after a Lawrence sack on fourth down, Balluff scored again on a three-yard TD run that capped a 30-yard drive in six plays. The score made it 14-0 with 4:41 to go in the opening frame.
The next drive was pounded home when quarterback Drew David threw his lone TD pass of the night after escaping Bulldog pressure and hitting a diving Zack Martinelli on an 11-yard score. The conversion with :55 left in the first set the score at 21-0.
In the second quarter, Streator’s initial drive resulted in a punt, and Kaneland made them pay when Nauert turned on the afterburners for a 67-yard touchdown run down the Streator sideline for a 28-0 edge with 10:56 left in the first half.
Kaneland’s next drive in the quarter went four running plays, with Dyer powering in from the three, for a 34-0 lead with 6:34 to go. Dyer originally set the score up on a 27-yard carry that busted up several Bulldog tackle attempts.
The score set in motion the Lawrence pick-six on the next drive, which was the first defensive score for KHS since a Taylor Andrews fumble return in 2010 against the visiting Sycamore Spartans.
“On that play, (Ben) Bradford got a nice shot on the quarterback as he threw it, and I knew no one was going to get Ryan,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.
Fedderly and company prepare for the NIB-12 East slate, beginning with the familiar rival Rochelle Hubs in Ogle County on Friday, Sept. 21.
KHS defeated the Hubs twice in 2011: 35-14 in Maple Park on Sept. 23, 2011, and a 20-14 Class 5A State quarterfinal win in Rochelle on Nov. 12, 2011.
“We’re going to play a really tough Rochelle team that we played in the quarterfinals,” Fedderly said. “It’s going to be like a playoff atmosphere and playoff football.”