Kaneland responds in win over Woodstock North

Woodstock North consumed nearly 10 minutes of clock in scoring on the opening drive of its game at Kaneland on Friday night at Peterson Field.

The Thunder struck first, but the Knights were determined to avoid seeing their playoff hopes fade away on senior night, scoring four touchdowns of their own while not allowing another in a 28-7 victory.

“We've been trying to push our kids that it doesn't matter who we're playing, we can play with anybody,” Thunder coach Matt Polnow said. “Tonight they gave it a battle. It was awesome to be up (7-6) at halftime.”

Kaneland (5-3) responded in 2:41 to the Thunder's first strike. The Knights needed just six plays before quarterback Dom DeBlasio rolled over and into the end zone for a 3-yard score. A missed PAT kept it at 7-6. The Knights are without highly talented starting quarterback Troyer Carlson, who injured his ankle last week.

Woodstock North (2-6) pounded forward 14 plays to open the game with Kaden Combs making the biggest headway. He scored on a 3-yard run up the middle with 2:04 in the quarter, a play the Thunder used to keep the chains moving.

The Knights failed to complete a fourth down on a drive in the first half but would score on their next four to finally pull away.

“Everything we came to do we did execute for two and a half quarters, but it hurt when we lost (backup quarterback Landan Creighton), because he was already our backup so we were down to our third quarterback,” Polnow said. “I'm so proud of the kids though. But it hurt when he went down. You could feel the energy drop.”

Senior Josh Mauthe's 1-yard run, plus DeBlasio's two-point conversion run with 3:33 left in the third quarter put the Knights ahead 14-7.

Another couple of seniors combined to set up Kaneland's following score.

Sebastian Chavez narrowly had a pick, but luckily still tipped it into Aric Johnson's hands.

“We went over this at our practice and it was ok that it tipped out of my hands because he's a good player,” Chavez said. “I thought he was going to take that to the house.”

He also thought it was one of the toughest games the Knights have played.

“It was one of the tougher ones,” he said. “You know, but we have a good team, a good coaching staff and we were able to pull away and get a good team win on senior night.”

On their next possession, the Knights let Johnson do his thing. He rambled for 35 yards leaving the Knights just 35 yards short of the end zone. After Mauthe's 5-yard run, Johnson took off to his left for a 20-yard touchdown to make it 21-7 with 8:14 left.

Kaneland's defense forced the Thunder to turn the ball over on downs on its next possession.

Then, just like it happened minutes earlier, Mauthe ran for 5 yards before Johnson took off all the way to the end zone. This time he covered 36 yards.

“As soon as I had the ball I knew the outside linebacker was sealed,” Johnson said. “I have to thank my blockers for that one. All I had to do was run.”

The Knights needed to respond and controlled the second half.

“We had a little adversity in the first half and we needed to wake up,” Johnson said. “We had a weird week in school with two days off and practice and our backup quarterback has to learn the offense. So we had to get the juices flowing and when we did we took off in the second half from there.”

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