JOLIET – A week after Marcellus Moore had a banner receiving day for Plainfield North in its opener against Plainfield East, another talented Tigers senior was able to duplicate that feat during the opening half of Friday's game at Joliet Central.
Jaylon Tillman caught just three passes but all of those went for touchdowns as he and quarterback Adam Smith hooked up on scoring passes of 37, 42 and 67 yards to help the Tigers roll to a 49-0 win over the Steelmen in a Southwest Prairie Conference crossover.
Besides its success on offense, where it finished with 200 yards on the ground and 178 yards through the air, North used great special teams play to assure that the Steelmen's home opener was destined to feature a running clock shortly before the intermission.
The Tigers blocked two punts and recovered a fumble in the opening quarter which all resulted in quick scores as the visitors took a 21-0 lead after only running six plays from scrimmage in the first 12 minutes. They added another blocked punt in the second quarter and were beneficiaries of a safety when the snap on a punt try sailed through the end zone.
"Jaylon is very talented and we knew that going in and has scholarship offers from Eastern and Western, so pound for pound, he's probably our best receiver," North coach Anthony Imbordino said. "We knew that we'd take advantage of certain situations and formations and Adam threw the ball great and he continues to get better and better."
After Joshua Hlavacek blocked a punt, Smith (6-of-9, 178 yards, 6-81 rushing) tossed a 37-yard pass to Tillman (3-146 receiving) on North's first play from scrimmage. A short time later Smith and Tillman hooked for for a 42-yard score to go up 14-0 just 5:47 into the game.
"Once we get everything clicking and rolling, our offense is real dangerous," Tillman said. "We really just wanted to come in here and get up early and then just get everyone else the chance to play."
Following a fumble return by Danny Nuccio, Nate Simpson (6-74 rushing) scored on a three-yard run to make it 21-0. And then Sean Sajdak blocked a punt and Cooper Bridges returned it 45 yards for a score with four seconds left in the first quarter to make it 28-0.
"Our coach told us before the game that we had to play to Plainfield North standards so we wanted to go out and execute the game plan the best that we could," Bridges said. "We played hard and the score reflected how hard we played. It was a great team win."
In the second quarter, the Tigers got a blocked punt by Bridges and later added a safety. After that, Simpson ran in from 34 yards to make it 36-0 before Smith and Tillman hooked up once again for a 67-yard touchdown with 24 seconds left before the break.
Smith closed out the scoring with an 80-yard scramble down the sideline in the fourth quarter. To the Steelmen's credit, they battled throughout a game that was even more frustrating due to some injuries. Top performers for Central included Jayden Perez (17-74 rushing) and Jaren Smith (11-40 rushing).