MINOOKA – It didn’t take long Friday night for Minooka’s defense to make its presence known.
On the first play from scrimmage, Romeoville’s Jordan Nettles attempted a running play into the teeth of the Indians’ defense. He was stopped for no gain by Blake Parzych, and the ball came loose. Minooka’s Kris Ledesma recovered the fumble, giving the Indians the ball at the Romeoville 30.
It was the first of four turnovers forced by the Minooka defense as the Indians opened Southwest Prairie Conference play with a 46-0 victory to move to 3-0 overall. Minooka also got fumble recoveries by Logan O’Brien and Jose Rodriguez as well as an interception by Jonny Butler. The Indians held Romeoville to 102 rushing yards and just 17 through the air.
“Our defense did a good job tonight and set the tone early by forcing the fumble,” Minooka coach Paul Forsythe said. “We played well at all three levels of the defense. The defensive line was very good, the linebackers flew to the ball and the secondary did a great job in coverage.”
The Minooka secondary allowed Romeoville quarterback Anthony Kitchens to complete only two of his 19 pass attempts, and Butler’s interception and subsequent return to the Spartans’ five-yard line set up an Indians touchdown.
After Ledesma’s initial fumble recovery, the Indians got an 18-yard run by Josh Garcia, and a facemask penalty gave Minooka first-and-goal from the nine-yard line. There, the Romeoville defense stiffened and didn’t allow the Indians to score.
On second down for Romeoville, Parzych batted down a pass, the first of his two J.J. Watt-type swats of the game. Kitchens picked up a bad snap on a punt attempt and ran for a first down, but the Minooka defense eventually forced a punt, taking over at midfield.
On fourth-and-2 from the 42, Romeoville was whistled for encroachment, giving Minooka a first down. Three plays later, quarterback John Carnagio hit Mike Malinowski with a four-yard touchdown pass for a 6-0 lead. Carnagio finished 16 of 20 through the air for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
The next Minooka drive belonged to Jaccor Blakney. The senior running back carried five times for 45 yards, including a six-yard score. He finished with 95 yards and two TDs on 13 attempts. Malinowski added 86 rushing yards on 12 carries, while C.J. Moody had 43 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Drew Turek scored from three yards out on his only rushing attempt as well.
“The offensive line [Austin Stock, David Newman, Austin Sims, Derek Wentworth and Noah Perez] did a nice job,” Forsythe said. “They were firing off the ball real well.”
Late in the first half, Carnagio hit Quintin Durov on a slant on fourth-and-4. Durov spun off a Romeoville defender at the 20 and sprinted into the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown and a 19-0 Minooka lead at intermission.
Butler intercepted a pass on Romeoville’s first possession of the second half, setting up Carnagio’s five-yard TD pass to Isaiah Hill. Blakney added his second TD of the night, this one from eight yards out, on Minooka’s next possession for a 32-0 lead. After Rodriguez recovered a fumble, Turek scored to cap a 35-yard drive and move Minooka ahead, 46-0. Moody ended the scoring with an 11-yard TD run with 8:51 to play.
With the win, Minooka moves to 3-0 for the first time since 2010, heading into a showdown with conference power Oswego this week.
“It’s a nice feeling to be 3-0,” Forsythe said. “But we still have things to work on. Our offense was a little sloppy early, but we got it going pretty well in the second half. It was nice to see us run the ball well. Mike Malinowski is a real hard runner, and Jaccor Blakney is pretty explosive.”