Burlington Central drops Kishwaukee River opener

Burlington Central's first Kishwaukee River Conference game came Friday against a familiar opponent - longtime Big Northern East rival Richmond-Burton.

While Burlington Central knew what was coming, stopping it was another matter. Richmond-Burton only threw 2 passes in the game, relying on its traditional ground-and-pound attack for 280 rushing yards in a 35-7 victory.

Richmond-Burton (2-2, 1-1) kept its offense on the field most of the night with a series of time-consuming drives, a 19-7 edge in first downs.

"It's Richmond-Burton," Burlington Central coach Brian Melvin said. "They do the same thing for years. They are stronger than us. We can fix that in the off-season."

Burlington Central (0-4, 0-1) had a chance to strike first on its opening possession. Punting from midfield, punter James Fay corralled a high snap and ran 20 yards for a first down at Richmond-Burton's 32-yard line.

Three plays later, Richmond-Burton intercepted sophomore Johnny DiCostanzo. It then proceeded to go on a 9-play, 77-yard drive capped by Shane Byrne's 1-yard run and Blaine Bayer's 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.

Burlington Central answered with a 74-yard run down the right sideline by Fay, pulling within 8-7 with 1:47 left in the first quarter.

"Our guys blocked them down and I saw the open gap and just took it," Fay said.

Richmond-Burton quarterback Brady Gibson scored on a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs in the second quarter for a 21-7 halftime lead.

DiCostanzo completed passes to Logan Dietz and Jarret VanAcker to give Burlington Central a chance to score right before halftime. But the drive stalled on downs at Richmond-Burton's 9-yard line.

Richmond-Burton scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter to break the game open.

"They are really big," Melvin said. "They are bigger, faster and stronger than us right now. That's where we're at. And they are really good. We knew they weren't a 1-2 team."

R-B finished with a 327-209 edge in yards and played a clean game with no turnovers and just 2 penalties.

"Having watched their games so far, Burlington had been able to stop people from moving the ball on the ground. I was glad we were able to do that," Richmond-Burton coach Pat Elder said. "We have not played well in any phase of the game yet. This was the most solid effort we put together."

Fay led Burlington Central with 141 yards on 11 carries while DiCostanzo completed 4 of his 11 attempts.

"We have to make sure we execute in every aspect of the game," Fay said. "We are studying and doing everything we needed to do but sometimes we don't complete everything we want to. We're getting closer and closer every week."

Burlington Central plays Johnsburg next; the Skyhawks beat Richmond-Burton 53-0 last week.

"Our schedule does not get any easier," Melvin said. "We have played four really great programs and we're going to a team next week that can win state. We're trying to rebuild a program and we're playing teams that can win state. It's a process."

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