Photo: The Knights go up to try and block a Sycamore extra point during the first quarter of Kaneland’s 30-7 Homecoming win. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland gets best of Sycamore in a rush in Homecoming game
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There’s beauty in simplicity.
Kaneland kept it simple on Friday night at Peterson Field, brought on by necessity after quarterback Drew David was spelled before the game by sophomore backup Tyler Carlson due to injury.
The Knights utilized a clock-munching, punishing ground game with different formations, and saw the defense also get in on the act en route to a 30-7 win in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.
Kaneland’s mark improved to 8-0, marking that particular stat for the third straight year, and 4-0 in the NIB-12 East.
Sycamore fell to 5-3 (2-2 NIB-12), and hasn’t beaten Kaneland in regular season play since a 37-7 win on Sept. 14, 2007, along Spartan Trail.
Kaneland lost to the Spartans in first-round playoff action on Halloween night, 2009, in Maple Park.
Not needing to go complicated with a first-time starter behind center, and having the ground tools at its expense, the Knights got 177 yards rushing from Jesse Balluff, and 104 from Carlson in the win.
“We came into this game thinking normal playbook, same plays, everything like that,” Balluff said. “The running was working so we went to that more.”
The scoring started from the Spartan end, thanks to a touchdown run from senior ballcarrier Austin Culton on the lengthy opening drive to make it 7-0 halfway through the first frame.
Beginning from their own 19, Kaneland used two runs by Carlson, including a 27-yard carry, and three by Balluff to get into position for a 1-yard scoring run by Carlson with 3:22 remaining in the first for a 7-7 tie.
The defense took the stage on Sycamore’s next drive, thanks to a stuff of Dion Hooker by Gary Koehring in the endzone to take the lead for good, 9-7, with 2:13 to go in the first.
“Our line got such a good push. They had him stuffed in the backfield. All I had to do was wrap him up and take him down,” Koehring said.
The second quarter featured another score from the Knights, with a drive beginning at the 38 of Sycamore. Three runs by Carlson and another by Balluff set up a third-and-8 from the 26, when Brandon Bishop hauled in a 16-yard pass.
Balluff took the next carry and powered his way through the middle for a touchdown to make it 16-7 with 1:33 before halftime.
Kaneland’s second-half opening drive came up empty after a missed 40-yard field goal try by Matt Rodriguez was returned to the Kaneland 33.
Justin Diddell stonewalled a Culton carry on 4th-and-1 at the Knight 24 to reverse possession.
A 10-play drive that featured a Zach Martinelli 20-yard catch sandwiched around runs from Carlson, Balluff and Dylan Nauert, led to a Balluff 14-yard score with :34 left in the third.
Carlson found a hole for a nine-yard scoring run to make the final margin of 23 with 6:35 remaining.
Morris comes into town to finish the regular season in a battle of undefeated squads on Friday, Oct. 19.
Morris hosted Kaneland a year ago with the NIB-12 East on the line and lost 31-28.