Photo: Dylan Nauert (20) supplies a good block for running back Jesse Balluff (30). Kaneland went to Rochelle Friday and came away with a solid 34-6 victory. Photo by Patti Wilk
Knights’ passing attack works with defense in 34-6 win at Rochelle
by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLE—Knights football is making road quests feel like home.
That’s how good they’ve been playing.
Coming to the end of the 2012 opening stretch in which they’ve played four of their first five games on the road, the Knights invaded their first Northern Illinois Big XII East division test: Rochelle.
The Knights held Rochelle’s vaunted wing-T offense in check, subdued the Hubs’ determination after losing to KHS in the Class 5A quarterfinals 10 months ago, and came away with a 34-6 win. That is the sixth consecutive win over Rochelle, a span that started following the Knights’ loss that launched the Hubs’ new football facility in 2007.
The Knights’ staunch defense allowed just 140 yards to the running game of Rochelle, and has allowed just six points in the last three games.
Junior QB Drew David was 11-for-19 for 262 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, while receiver Dylan Nauert hauled in five passes for 135 yards and two scores.
“Our line’s been blocking really well. When they give me lots of time and I’m able to get it to those guys, they’re able to make guys miss and can take it all the way at any time,” David said.
After a scoreless tie marked the first quarter of play, the Knights converted points on their fourth drive.
Nauert hauled in a pass, emerged from an attempted tackle, and went down the KHS sideline for an 86-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 6:49 remaining in the first half.
“I knew I had to run the hitch and I ran it. I saw the opening and ran as fast as I could,” Nauert said.
David threw a pick on the next drive, but after forcing Rochelle to punt, Jesse Balluff caught a pass in stride and raced 58 yards for another score at a 14-0 lead with 1:40 to go before halftime.
Rochelle’s Tony Walsh, the Hubs’ leading rusher on the night, capped an eight-play drive with a four-yard score with 2:41 to go in the third frame, but the extra-point attempt missed to put the score at 14-6.
Whatever good feeling the Hubs had was quickly erased as runs by David, Balluff and Nate Dyer advanced the ball, along with a pass to Zack Martinelli.
Balluff plunged in from the two-yard line to make the score 21-6 with 1:23 to go in the third quarter.
Kaneland’s two scoring drives in the final 12-minute set happened with a Dyer touchdown run with 10:26 to play, and when Nauert caught a 32-yard touchdown pass with 6:27 remaining.
“They’re just getting better and better,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “We found out what they’re good at and they’re making improvements. Everything we do starts with the guys up front.”
For the third straight year, Kaneland opened its season 5-0 (1-0 in the NIB-12 East).
The Knights have yet to lose a conference game since the inception of the new school formation in 2010. Their regular season win streak sits at 24, with wins in 26 of its last 28 contests, and they have not lost a road game since losing in Geneva in week eight of 2008.
The Knights host DeKalb on Friday, Sept. 28, with the 1-4 Barbs coming off a win against Streator.