Coming up big
Photo: Linebacker Cole Carlson contributed an interception during Saturday’s game against Brooks Prep of Chicago. Photo by Patti Wilk
Defense makes tide-changing plays in 27-7 win over Brooks
KANELAND—Kaneland football’s defense on Saturday night picked up the pieces.
It also picked up the team, as well as any loose balls and errant passes.
The Knights’ D managed two third-quarter safeties to add to the point total in a 27-7 opening weekend victory over the Brooks Prep Eagles from Chicago.
It marked the third straight win over the Eagles since the series began in 2011, and marked a stark contrast from the 25-24 comeback win at Gately Stadium on Aug. 25, 2012 that was possible only with a fourth-quarter surge.
The 1-0 Knights won their 29th consecutive regular season contest, dating back to week nine of the 2009 campaign against Yorkville. The trumping of Brooks was delayed 24 hours after torrential rain and plentiful lightning wiped high school football action out throughout the area on Friday.
It marked the first postponement of a Kaneland football game since the opening weekend of the 2007 season, when heavy storms on a Thursday prompted moving the Kaneland win over Burlington Central to a Saturday kickoff.
The offensive output by Kaneland was largely confined to the first half and a 23-7 lead, but five turnovers bruised additional scoring chances, making the defensive play from personnel like Sam Bower, Grant Wooten (interception) and Tyler Carlson all the more important.
“It was nice, we knew we got embarrassed last year,” Carlson said. “We came out and did our job on the defensive end and it was a good game. Our defensive line just got pressure for the safeties, and it was really good work by them.”
For Kaneland, quarterback Drew David went 15-of-29 for 232 yards and three interceptions. Jesse Balluff went 84 yards on 18 carries, while David was close behind with 81 yards rushing. Tight end Tyler Slamans paced the receiving corps with 71 yards on three catches, while John Pruett and Brandon Bishop each had 44 yards receiving.
The night began with a Dylan Nauert kickoff return to the Brooks’ 24-yard line, where runs by Drew David and Jesse Balluff got the drive going. After two incomplete passes, kicker Matt Rodriguez booted a 24-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead one minute, 42 seconds into battle.
After a Brooks punt was downed at the Eagles’ 12, Balluff broke one tackle on the next play and scampered into the end zone for a 9-0 lead with 8:54 to go in the first.
Another Brooks punt led to a six-play, 77-yard scoring drive for Kaneland, ending with a five-yard touchdown run up the middle for Balluff with 5:05 to go in the first for a 16-0 lead. The drive was keyed by a 34-yard completion to Slamans.
The lone scoring drive for Kaneland in the second quarter was made of the ball-control variety, with the seventh and last run of the drive a one-yard run by fullback Nate Dyer with 3:33 to go for a 23-0 lead.
Brooks found the scoreboard on a 21-yard scoring pass from Tyree Dantzler to Dakota Starks with 36 seconds remaining in the half, closing the deficit to 23-7.
The Kaneland offense saw drives fizzle out with a missed field goal, three interceptions and a lost fumble. The second-half scoring came as a result of two third-quarter safeties, causing the ever-rare four-point third quarter.
“We’re really happy with our defensive line,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “Sophomores had a big game, Bower had a huge game and Ty Carlson, in his first game as linebacker, I thought he did a terrific job.”
With 10:40 to go in the third quarter, a team sack of Dantzler in the end zone made it 25-7, while the next drive ended with a punt block by Bower out of the end zone for a 27-7 lead with 7:24 to go in the third and capping the scoring.