MORRIS – The first time Morris had the ball Friday night, the offense drove 90 yards and ended up in the end zone.
After that, though, the going was considerably rougher, as Northern Illinois Big 12 East rival Kaneland held Morris (3-4, 0-3) scoreless the rest of the way and handed the Redskins a 23-7 defeat on Homecoming and Senior Night.
Kaneland received the opening kickoff and marched down the field, reaching the Morris 18-yard line. On third-and-9 from the 18, the Redskins’ Jake Webb dove to intercept a Jake Marczuk pass and gave Morris possession at its 10-yard line.
Running back Michael
Feeney broke through the line on the first play and raced down the left sideline for a 44-yard gain to the Kaneland 46. Feeney, who finished with a team-leading 71 yards on 13 carries, then carried for losses of 3 and 1 yard, giving Morris a third-and-14 from midfield. Nathan Guth then hit Tommy Balentine with a short pass, and Balentine made two defenders miss en route to a 15-yard gain and a first down.
On the next play, Guth ran up the middle but fumbled when he was hit. The ball came loose and bounced to the right, where Balentine scooped it up and ran the remaining 30 yards for a touchdown. Collin Tucker added the extra point, and Morris went ahead, 7-0.
The Redskins then forced a punt and took over on their 34. Runs of 11 yards by
Balentine, 10 yards by Guth and 23 yards by Feeney on fourth-and-2 moved the ball to the Kaneland 15. Morris faced fourth-and-5 from the 10, and a 27-yard field goal attempt by Tucker was no good.
“Our opening drive was great,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “We went 90 yards and scored a touchdown. Our second drive was fine. Even though we missed a field goal, I can live with that because we moved the ball, ate some clock and gave ourselves a chance to score.”
After that, though, there weren’t too many chances to score, as Kaneland’s defense forced five turnovers the rest of the way, two of the scoring variety. One was a fumble returned for a touchdown and the other a fumble recovered by Morris in the end zone for a safety.
Kaneland missed a 20-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, but got the ball right back when Matthew Redman intercepted a pass at midfield and returned it to the Morris 22. Two plays later, Marczuk hit Tanner
Robertsen with a short pass and Robertsen made a Redskin defender miss to finish off the 22-yard scoring play with a sprint into the end zone. Drew Franklin’s kick tied the game with 5:19 to go until halftime.
Guth thwarted the next Knight drive with an interception at the Morris 13, but
Kaneland forced a Morris punt and took over at the 39 with 1:28 to play. Marczuk hit Robertson, who finished with eight catches for 142 yards, with a 38-yard pass to the
Morris 1-yard line. After Morris stopped Zachary Parker for a 1-yard loss, Jonathan Alstott went over from the 2 with 24 seconds left to give Kaneland a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Morris got the ball to start the second half, but Kaneland’s Isaiah Baerenklau intercepted a pass. The Morris defense forced a punt, which was downed at the Redskin 5. Kegan Sobol ran for gains of 19 and 20 yards on the ensuing drive, which reached the Kaneland 46 before being stopped on fourth down.
Kaneland missed a 36-yard field goal attempt, giving Morris the ball at its 20.
After a 10-yard run by Balentine, Ricky Del Favero fumbled, and the ball was scooped up by Kaneland’s Austin Vickery, who returned it 15 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
On the next drive, Guth was sacked in the end zone and fumbled. He recovered his own fumble, but it was in the end zone and it was a safety for the Knights to cap the night’s scoring.
“I thought our defense played well,” Thorson said. “Two of their scores were by their defense, so the points on Kaneland’s side of the scoreboard is not an indication of how our defense played. We just put our defense in difficult spots all night. You can’t do that and expect to win.
“We’ve had our ups and downs on offense all year, but we haven’t had many turnovers. Tonight, the turnovers were a killer.”