Naperville Central's ground game does in DeKalb

With the regular starter hurt and the backup twisting his knee against DeKalb, third-string running back Caleb Brown made the most of his opportunity in the backfield.

Brown ran 33 times for 143 yards and two scores as the Redhawks dominated time of possession in a 26-0 win at DeKalb on Friday on the Barbs' homecoming.

"(Because) of some injuries we needed him to play tonight and he had an unbelievable night," Naperville Central coach Mike Ulreich said. "We felt good what our offensive line was doing moving the ball and Caleb put some great, tough runs together."

The Redhawks (5-2 overall, 3-1 DuPage Valley Conference) ran 74 plays in the game. They only had two drives in the second half. The first was a 17-play, 65-yard drive capped by a pass from Christopher McCormack to Logan Devick for a 20-0 lead in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, they had a 20-play, 85-yard drive capped by an 8-yard score by Brown.

The Redhawks were six of seven on the day on fourth-down conversions and 8 of 16 on third down. They ran 74 plays for 336 yards, with McCormack going 12-of-16 for 85 yards through the air and running 20 times for 79 yards and a score.

"Offensively, they do a decent amount within the run game, they make it really hard, and they have a quarterback who is mobile," DeKalb coach Derek Schneeman said. "A lot of their fourth downs were fourth-and-2, fourth-and-3. That's not where you want to be."

The Barbs (4-3, 2-2) struggled to keep their offense on the field and amassed just 105 yards in the game. Talen Tate ran eight times for 56 yards. On the first play of the game, he had a 40-yard run called back because of a penalty.

DeKalb went three- or four-and-out on four of their first five drives of the game.

"We're rotating Jamari [Brown] and Talen, and we had too many three-and-outs in the first half," Schneeman said. "When you have that it just screws everything up. We talked about staying on schedule this week and last week and doing a better job of that. We're successful when we stay ahead of the chains and give Jamari and Talen time to work. And tonight Naperville Central took us out of it."

Naperville Central started the scoring on its opening drive, going 66 yards on 10 plays. The Redhawks scored on a keeper by McCormack on a fourth-and-2 from the 19, faking a handoff and going untouched for the score.

DeKalb started the next drive with a 30-yard run by Talen Tate that was called back, and the Barbs ended up punting. The teams traded three and outs, then the Redhawks put together another long scoring drive, capped on a third-and-goal run from the 2 by Caleb Brown.

"We're very intentional about the team aspect of the game, and a big aspect of that is your offense needs to control the game," Ulreich said. "The offense did a great job. We were frustrated at one of the turnovers we gave, but we're continuing to push the offense to control the football game and we're getting there."

The Barbs went three-and-out again, but LaBrian Carrington intercepted McCormack on the first play of the Naperville Central drive. The Barbs couldn't capitalize though. Naperville Central started a 75-yard drive in the closing minutes of the half and got down to the DeKalb 4, but McCormack was stuffed for a 2-yard game on the last play of the half.

Despite lopsided halftime stats, DeKalb trailed by 13-0 at the break. The Redhawks had 38 plays for 146 yards, while DeKalb ran 16 plays for 10 yards in the first half.

"[Tate] ran really hard and I thought he was going to break a few," Ulreich said. "But it starts with our three guys up front. And we play assignment sound, fast, physical football. And those guys play really well together."

Naperville Central's Caleb Brown gets past DeKalb's Nathan Hoard during their game Friday Oct. 7, 2022, at DeKalb High School. Mark Busch/
DeKalb's LaBrian Carrington wraps up Naperville Central's Caleb Brown during their game Friday Oct. 7, 2022, at DeKalb High School. Mark Busch/
Naperville Central's Chris McCormack tries to get by DeKalb's Nathan Smith during their game Friday Oct. 7, 2022, at DeKalb High School. Mark Busch/
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