Johnsburg dominates short-handed Burlington Central

Coming to Rocket Hill Friday night at 4-0 and ranked No. 4 in the state after last year's runner-up state finish in Class 4A, Johnsburg certainly didn't need any extra help.

But Burlington Central gave the Skyhawks plenty.

The Rockets fumbled on their first kickoff return, fumbled on their first punt attempt, and then snapped another ball over the punter's head for a safety on their next punt - only to see Johnsburg return the ensuing kickoff after the safety 55 yards for a touchdown.

And that was all in the first eight minutes.

By midway through the second quarter the Skyhawks were going to their bench, and they went to victory formation with a minute to go - in the first half. Johnsburg ended with a 65-0 victory, sending the Rockets (2-3, 0-2) to their second straight Kishwaukee River Conference loss.

"We've been turning the ball over all year," Rockets coach Brian Melvin said. "It's getting very tiresome. I've never been on a team that's had more turnovers."

Burlington Central had a chance to stop Johnsburg (5-0, 2-0) on the first drive of the game. But on fourth-and-13, Adam Jayko hit Nick LoDolce for a 29-yard touchdown.

Jayko only threw the ball 8 times, completing 6 for 115 yards.

"We got those guys going early which opened up the run," Johnsburg coach Dan DeBoeuf said.

After the Rockets fumbled the kickoff, Jayko's 1-yard run made it 14-0.

Rockets sophomore quarterback Jake Lenschow, making his second start, ran 14 yards to convert a first down. But that drive quickly stalled, and after the muffed snap on the punt, Casey Meland capitalized on the short field with a 1-yard touchdown dive and 21-0 lead.

By the end of the first quarter it was 30-0 and at halftime it was 51-0 as the backups Johnsburg brought in were nearly as unstoppable as the starters.

"They are amazing," Melvin said. "I don't see how they don't win state this year. Dan does a great job over there."

Augie Rowe returned an interception for a 21-yard touchdown in the second half for Johnsburg while the Rockets almost got on the board but were stopped three times at the Skyhawks' 1-yard line.

The Skyhawks outgained the Rockets 340 yards to 44 in the first half.

"We've been talking a lot about starting fast and maintaining that tempo," DeBouef said. "Throughout the season we've had spurts where we look really, really good, and spurts where we don't look so tough. Tonight I thought it was kind of a constant. It was good to see."

Nathan Figurski ran for 20 yards on 13 carries for the Rockets. Lenschow completed 5 of 16 passes for 74 yards, and Colton Wallace booted a 51-yard punt.

"Jake is learning," Melvin said. "He's a really good football player. He just has to understand the varsity game. He'll get here."

Missing four starters including Johnny DiCostanzo, Ryan Doubek and Nick Termini, the Rockets will try to get back on track next week at Woodstock.

"If you look at what's happened the last two weeks, we're still a 2-3 football team with a chance to make the playoffs," Melvin said. "And that's our goal. We're fine."

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