Cavies let up, then finish fast in 55-31
By Eric Becker
CARLINVILLE (Oct. 12, 2017) – Carlinville, perhaps somewhat shockingly, built a 41-7 lead midway through the third quarter against a good squad in Vandalia Friday night at home.
The Vandals pushed back, getting within two possessions and had the ball back early in the fourth quarter.
Then some pressure on quarterback Matthew Wells forced a pass which was intercepted.
The Cavaliers went on to take six minutes off the game clock, and emerged with a 55-31 victory over the Vandals in a key conference showdown.
Carlinville improved to 7-0; Vandalia slipped to 5-2.
Both teams have high-powered passing attacks, as the two schools combined to throw the ball 64 times – 32 on each side. In the end, Carlinville forced three turnovers, including a fumble recovered in the end zone for six points, and the Cavies stayed on the unbeaten path.
Head coach Chad Easterday said the team came out a bit flat in the third quarter after missing some chances in the first half as well, despite building a sizable lead.
“Come out in the third quarter, we’re a little flat, for a lack of a better term,” C.Easterday said. “Blew a coverage, next thing you know we have a ballgame going on again. Finally got some things fixed at the beginning of the fourth and then started to do what we do.”
Carlinville opened the game recovering an onside kick, then marching 50 yards in seven plays, with Ethan Wallace scoring from a yard out.
Vandalia took about 18 seconds to answer, getting a touchdown pass from Wells to Marcus Zimmerman on its first play from scrimmage of 64 yards to tie the game.
The teams exchanged punts, but Carlinville went on a 52-yard drive late in the first quarter. A 45-yard pass from Jarret Easterday to Kyle Dixon set up another one-yard touchdown run by Wallace and a 15-7 lead for the Cavies with 1:31 left in the quarter.
Wells then went to throw on the first play of the next drive, but Max Rogers shot the ball out of his arms at the 20-yard line, with the ball ending up in the end zone. A lineman’s dream, Jordan Bressler recovered in the end zone for a Carlinville touchdown. It was 21-7 through one quarter of play.
“They had three turnovers and we practice that,” C.Easterday said. “We work on those types of things like turnover ratios. I was happy to see our kids practice that.”
The Cavies scored on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Easterday to Donovan King to make it 28-7 with 3:06 left in the first half.
Vandalia turned the ball over on downs at the Carlinville 34 with 1:14 left in the half. It would be too much time left for the Vandalia defense.
The Cavies got a 16-yard run from Garrett Campbell, a 14-yard pass from Easterday to Josh Hinzman and a Dixon 31-yard halfback option pass to Hinzman to set up a first-and-goal situation.
Wallace’s third touchdown run of the half, from two yards out, made it 34-7 with 15 seconds left in the half.
Carlinville drove 59 yards midway through the third quarter, taking a 41-7 lead on an Easterday to Hinzman 28-yard touchdown pass. It was 41-7 with 7:14 left in the third.
But, the Vandals were not quite finished. They would make it a ballgame, scoring 18 straight points over a four-minute stretch late in the third quarter.
Wells scored from 17 yards out to make it 41-13. Carlinville went three and out, and then a 78-yard pass from Wells to Zimmerman made it 41-19 with 1:33 left in the quarter.
The Cavies fumbled the ball away, and Vandalia had a short field, going 27 yards. The Wells to Zimmerman connection worked again, as a 25-yard touchdown made it 41-25 with 15 seconds left in the third quarter.
It was a two-possession game early in the fourth as the Cavaliers were forced to punt.
On the third play of Vandalia’s next drive, looking to get the deficit down to single digits, pressure put on Wells forced a pass which was intercepted by Hinzman with 10:20 left in the game.
“Coach Steiner came up with a great call there – changed the coverage up totally from what we had done throughout the night,” C.Easterday said. “Then we put a drive together and able to punch it in the end zone.”
The Cavies methodically moved down field, going 40 yards in 12 plays, taking a full six minutes off the clock. They picked up two third downs and a fourth-down conversion on the drive, capped by a Colton DeLong five-yard touchdown.
It was 48-25 with 4:20 left to play.
Vandalia moved the ball down field on four straight pass completions, getting a Trevor Smalls one-yard run to get within 48-31 with 2:37 left to play.
Carlinville recovered the onside kick attempt, and Wallace capped a big game on the ground with a 42-yard touchdown run which sealed things in a 55-31 victory.
For the Cavaliers, Easterday completed 19 of 31 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns.
Wallace rushed for 96 yards on 15 attempts, with four of the attempts touchdown runs.
Dixon caught 13 passes for 163 yards, while Hinzman had three catches for 70 yards and a score.
“Kyle Dixon is an athlete – there’s no other way to describe him,” C.Easterday said. “He does things than nobody expects him to do. I thought we got him the ball at the right time in the right positions.”
Defensively, Rogers had 10 tackles, six solo and Dixon had nine tackles, three solo. King had five solo tackles among his six total.
Wells completed 18 of 31 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns. Zimmerman had nine catches for 270 yards and three scores.
But Vandalia was held to 17 yards rushing on 23 attempts.
Carlinville hosts Staunton on Friday night, while Vandalia hosts Roxana.
Ethan Wallace emerges from the pre-game ceremony as the Carlinville Cavaliers take the field against Vandalia Friday night.
Vandalia’s Dylan Garrett is tripped up by a Carlinville defender, while Collin Gibbel and Ethan Wallace pursue the play.