Carlinville scores in many different ways in home win over Litchfield

Carlinville scores in many different ways in home

By Eric Becker

The weather forecast for Carlinville Friday night was not ideal, so the go-ahead was made to move the game up one hour to a 6 p.m. kickoff. It rained prior to the start of the game, but not literally during the game, despite the Cavaliers pouring it on early.

Carlinville scored 44 first quarter points and 52 points in the first half, en route to a shortened 52-0 victory over the Litchfield Purple Panthers. The Cavaliers (3-0) hosts Pana (3-0) in a Friday night showdown at Carlinville High School.

The final three quarters were shortened to 10 minute quarters due to the 40-point margin against a Purple Panthers team that was unsure if they’d even field a varsity team just days before the start of the season.

Still, Litchfield gave it their best against the state’s fourth-ranked team in Class 3A. The varsity starters played most of the first quarter before giving way to the reserves the rest of the way. The Cavies defense stifled Litchfield to negative-71 yards of offense in the first half and negative-40 for the game.

Carlinville did suffer a key loss when senior Tucker Hughes left late in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.

“You want to do what you do – that was the focus all week,” said Carlinville head coach Chad Easterday. “I was happy to see our varsity stay focused. Our JV did a good job coming in – we were rotating in and out, getting some players on the field.”

Litchfield opened the game in Carlinville territory, but lost two yards and punted the ball to the Carlinville 19-yard line.

It took all of 13 seconds for Jarret Easterday and Nick Walton to connect on an 81-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline for a 7-0 lead.

Litchfield went six yards back its second drive and punted. The Cavaliers drove 51 yards in three plays – a Jake Ambuel 27-yard reception, a 23-yard run by Hughes and a one-yard touchdown run by Hughes to make it 16-0 less than three minutes into the game.

Following another punt by the Panthers, Easterday connected with Kyle Dixon on a 40-yard touchdown on the first play of the third drive, making it 23-0 despite having the ball for a total of one minute, six seconds.

In fact, Carlinville’s first quarter time of possession was 80 seconds, resulting in stunning 44 points.

Litchfield was backed up to its own five-yard line when a very odd score took place. Forced to punt from the end zone, the punt landed around the 10-yard line and bounced back to the five. Dixon picked the ball up and in two seconds, ran the ball into the end zone for an unconventional five-yard punt return touchdown to make it 30-0 with 4:39 left in the opening quarter.

Walton then intercepted a pass by Litchfield’s Clayton Walch, setting up another quick strike.

Dixon hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Easterday, making it 37-0 with 4:27 left in the first quarter.

Reid Kleeman then got himself some points, by recovering a fumble in the end zone with 1:47 left in the opening quarter, making it a 44-0 game.

With the varsity players now on the bench, Carlinville’s defense opened the second quarter with a safety, as Zach Reed forced the safety on the first play of the quarter. It was 46-0 with 9:45 left in the half.

Carlinville got a late touchdown in the first half on a two-yard run by Hunter Robinson, following a fumble recovery by the Cavies’ Chase Michaelis at the nine-yard line. With 2:01 left in the half it was 52-0.

There would be no scoring in the second half, which didn’t take long to complete. Litchfield’s first glimpse of offensive success came in the third quarter as Alex Fischer had a 26-yard run and Walch added a 12-yard run. Ultimately, the Panthers lost the ball on downs early in the fourth quarter after getting as close as the four-yard line.

The Cavaliers bench players did the rest in securing the shutout win.

“We try to pride ourselves on being organized, and I thought our kids did a good job of that situation getting people in and out of the game,” C. Easterday said. “Also of the coaching staff – that’s an organizational thing too. I thought we did a real good job of that.”

J. Easterday completed all four of his passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Dixon had 78 yards on two catches; Walton had a catch for 81 yards and Ambuel one for 27 yards.

Jeffrey Stufflebean led the ground attack with 49 yards on six carries. Robinson added seven carries for 33 yards.

All told, Carlinville outgained Litchfield 314 to negative 40.

The Panthers were led by Fischer with 17 yards on 109 carries. Walch completed two of nine passes for 10 yards, with Fischer making both receptions.

Defensively, Rayme Lewis had six tackles, two solo, while Blaze Ballowe had four tackles. Will Walton, Dylan Cunningham, Kleeman and Chase Lawless had three tackles each. W. Walton had two of the team’s seven sacks, while Ballowe, Michaelis, Lewis, Cunningham and Reed added the others.

N. Walton and Jack Kessinger had interceptions.

The first one-third of the season in the books, week four produces a key test for both Carlinville and Pana.

“Two good programs with a lot of tradition,” C. Easterday said. “Pana has been on the rise for about the past four years so we’ll have our hands full. We’ll have a good week of practice, break down some film and see how it goes.”

Elsewhere in the county

New Berlin won at North Mac 20-14 Friday despite Bryce Hiler rushing for 107 yards and Jake Mullink adding 88 yards on the ground for the Panthers (1-2).

South Mac lost at Pawnee 44-0 to open the season 0-3, all on the road. Quintin Kosowski completed five of 12 passes for 68 yards and two interceptions, and Owen Scheller had two catches for 32 yards for the Chargers.

Staunton erupted during a 35-point second quarter to beat Southwestern 44-6. Staunton is 2-1; Southwestern is 1-2.

Griffin Bianco completed eight of 14 passes for 186 yards and a score for Staunton, while Codi Castaldi caught three passes for 85 yards.

Blake Funk had 58 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Piasa Birds.

Hillsboro beat Gillespie 27-2 in Montgomery County. The game was scoreless at the half, but Hillsboro scored 19 points in the final quarter to pull away.

Greenfield/Northwestern improved to 3-0 with a 22-16 win over West Central Friday night. Denver Davenport had 187 yards rushing on 34 carries and two touchdowns. Dylan Pohlam added a seven-yard touchdown run for the Tigers.

Logan Rosentreter watches a punt from Litchfield drop at around the 10-yard line Friday night. It bounced back to the five-yard line, where Kyle Dixon picked it up and had the rare five-yard punt return touchdown during a 44-point first quarter frenzy for the Cavaliers against Litchfield.

Colton DeLong hauls in a pass against Litchfield Friday night as the Cavaliers won big 52-0.

Kyle Dixon of Carlinville corrals a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jarret Easterday Friday evening against Litchfield.

Jeffrey Stufflebean of Carlinville gains extra yardage after a first half catch against Litchfield Friday night.