MORRIS – For the final three minutes of the second quarter and all of the second half Friday night, the Morris football team outscored DeKalb, 21-7.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, DeKalb dominated the early going, jumping out to a 28-0 lead that helped carry the Barbs to a 35-21 Northern Illinois Big XII East Division win.
“I hate losing,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “Let me start with that. But, I loved the fact that we kept working and outscored them in the second half. There was fight and heart in every one of our kids, and that’s something we can build on. Our offense moved the ball, but we hurt ourselves at times with turnovers. I thought our runner was down on the fumble, but you still can’t lose the ball.”
Morris (3-3, 0-2 NI Big 12 East) thought it had DeKalb pinned early in the game, downing a punt on the DeKalb 1-yard line. The Barbs, however, turned the tables and scored on a 97-yard touchdown pass from Derek Kyler to Cole Tucker.
It was one of three TD catches by Tucker and one of four scoring passes for Kyler, the other going to James Robinson.
Turnovers helped DeKalb build its lead, as Ben Roelfsema intercepted a pass at the Morris 30 and returned it 24 yards to the 6-yard line. On the next play, Kyler hit Tucker in the flat for a touchdown.
Later in the second quarter, Morris drove to the DeKalb 20 before fumbling and DeKalb recovered at the 15. On the seventh play of the ensuing drive, Kyler connected with Tucker for a 15-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead with 3:43 to play until halftime.
But Morris didn’t quit. The Redskins drove 30 yards to the DeKalb 36, where Keagan Sobol caught a backward pass from Nathan Guth and threw a pass of his own to a wide-open Delaney Stutzki for a 36-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 28-7 at halftime.
DeKalb received the second-half kickoff and scored on a nine-yard run by David Long – who finished with 209 rushing yards on 26 carries – to take a 35-7 lead.
Morris answered quickly, as Guth hit Balentine along the left sideline for a 38-yard touchdown.
“DeKalb is a good team with a lot of speed and skill,” Thorson said. “They are very well-coached, and we went toe-to-toe with them, especially in the second half. Another thing I was happy with was that we had no penalties. We had one on defense, but they declined it. I challenged these guys all week, and they stepped up to the challenge.”
DeKalb drove to the Morris 11, but Michael Cryder intercepted Kyler in the end zone to get the ball back. The Redskins drove down to the DeKalb 10, but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Morris finally capped the scoring with an 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Michael Feeney, who led the team with 95 rushing yards on 14 carries.
“When we were behind 28-0, this game could have gotten ugly,” Thorson said. “But our guys didn’t give up, and I am proud of them for that. We have some good teams yet to play in Kaneland and Sycamore, but if we can continue what we did in the second half, I think our team wil be fine and we will make the playoffs.”