Johnsburg shuts down Burlington Central

With the Big Northern East title on the line, Burlington Central and Johnsburg engaged in an old-fashioned defensive battle, with Johnsburg coming out on top.

The Skyhawks scored on the game's opening possession, then used a dominating defense to hold on for a 7-0 victory on Rocket Hill Friday night. The win clinches at least a share of the BN-East for Johnsburg, which rejoined the conference just this year.

Johnsburg (7-1, 6-0) held Central to 100 total yards on the night, with just 6 coming on the ground. The Rockets' leading rusher, Jason Berango, returned to action after missing a couple of weeks, but carried just 5 times for minus-3 yards.

"We played pretty solid defensively," said Central coach Rich Crabel. "We made one mistake early and it cost us a touchdown. We didn't do enough offensively."

The Rockets (5-3, 5-1), who need to win at Rockford Christian (0-8) next week to secure a playoff berth, had minus-3 total yards at halftime. They gained most of their yards on one third-quarter drive, as their short passing game suddenly began to click. Quarterback Adam Skirmont connected with Trevor Davison 4 times during the drive, which reached the Johnsburg 2-yard line before stalling. Skirmont was tackled for losses on third and fourth down, ending what was easily the Rockets' best scoring chance.

"They got the stop the Johnsburg way," said Skyhawks' coach Mike Maloney. "Fourth and short, when they needed it, our line came up with a big push and got the stop, and that's what won us the game."

The Skyhawks took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards. Bailey Stefka ran 32 yards around right end for the score. After that, the Rockets' defense matched strides with Johnsburg. Central held the Skyhawks to just 145 total yards and 9 first downs, with 3 of those coming on that opening drive.

Still, Johnsburg, led by tailback Alex Peete (27 carries for 74 yards), was able to keep the ball out of the Rockets' hands with some ball-control drives.

The Rockets' star just might have been punter Brenden Bushy, who averaged just under 32 yards on 8 punts.

Skirmont completed 6 of 18 passes for 59 yards. Robert Doubek came on in the second half and completed 2 for 35 yards. Davison finished with 5 catches for 78 yards.

The Rockets' defense came up with some big stops, including holding Johnsburg out of the end zone after the Skyhawks started a possession at the Central 15-yard line. Kyle Blankenburg's interception ended another Johnsburg possession in Burlington territory.

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