CHS forces seven turnovers, shuts out Hillsboro in opener

CHS forces seven turnovers, shuts out Hillsboro in

By Eric Becker

CARLINVILLE (Aug. 30 2018) – Carlinville’s football team got going offensively early in the second half, but it was the defense which set the tone in a 35-0 season-opening win over visiting Hillsboro Friday night before an estimated announced crowd of 1,527.

The Cavaliers forced seven Hiltopper turnovers and allowed just over 200 total yardage in picking up their ninth straight win in the series.

Next up is a road test at Gillespie Friday night in the Miners’ home opener. Gillespie lost 30-22 at Vandalia to start the season.

“I think we had a few first game jitters, mistakes – call it what you will,” said head coach Chad Easterday. “I thought our kids and our coaching staff again made some great halftime adjustments. That’s a good sign of a veteran team. I was very happy to see us keep the goose egg on the board.”

The teams exchanged punts to start the season, then quarterback Landon Carroll broke loose for a 43-yard run on the first play of the second drive. It would be the longest play of the night for Hillsboro, who lost the ball on downs at the Cavie 29-yard line.

Carlinville’s offense struggled a bit early to get going, punting on two of their first three possessions and turning the ball on downs on the other.

Carlinville got on the scoreboard after a 54-yard, five-play drive late in the first quarter.

On third down and eight, Jarret Easterday completed a 26 yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to Kyle Dixon, who leaped in making the sideline catch and finding the end zone for a 7-0 Cavalier lead.

Carlinville forced a pair of fumbles which were recovered early in the second quarter, including one that was off a J. Easterday interception.

After recovering the second fumble, the Cavies drove 40 yards in four plays to take a 14-0 lead after a 33-yard touchdown pass from J. Easterday to Colton DeLong with 8:54 to play in the half.

Carlinville lost a fumble inside the Hiltopper five-yard line as they were driving on its next drive, so the game went to half with a 14-0 Carlinville advantage.

The third quarter started with a pair of J. Easterday runs totaling 15 yards, then a 49-yard touchdown pass to Dixon, who was wide open along the left sideline, for the Cavies third score. It was 21-0 with 10:43 left in the third quarter.

After a Jake Ambuel interception of a Liam Dugan halfback option pass, the Cavies found the end zone again.

A 52-yard drive included three straight completed passes, but was capped by a DeLong six-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0 with 8:04 left in the third quarter.

Hillsboro never really threatened to score, getting as close as the Carlinville 23-yard line early in the fourth quarter before losing the ball on another fumble.

Tucker Hughes came up with an interception midway through the fourth quarter for the Toppers’ seventh turnover of the night.

Carlinville capped the scoring with 17 seconds left, as Hunter Robinson scored on an 11-yard touchdown.

Easterday completed 16 of 27 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.

Dixon caught six passes for 160 yards and two scores. DeLong had two catches for 58 yards and Ambuel had five receptions for 37 yards.

The ground game was led by Hughes with 53 yards on 14 attempts.

Defensively, Rayme Lewis had 11 tackles, three solo with a fumble recovery and Dixon had 10 tackles, seven solo, while recovering two fumbles. Logan Rosentreter had eight tackles, including two and a half sacks and also recovered a fumble. Ambuel also recovered a fumble for CHS.

“They came out with a little different style of offense that we were ready for in the first half – they had a few wrinkles that we weren’t expecting,” C. Easterday said. “I thought our kids did some good adjusting on the fly in the second quarter and then made those adjustments at halftime, and I thought we were really able to control the perimeter game that we couldn’t get stopped in the second quarter a little bit.”

Hillsboro was led by Carroll completing eight of 18 passes for 122 yards, and Jordan Gregg caught four passes for 53 yards. Kaden Lemon had a pair of catches for 56 yards.

Carlinville outgained Hillsboro 409-210 in total yardage, including 276-122 through the air.

Hillsboro held a slight time of possession edge, while the Cavies had 22 first downs to 10 for Hillsboro. Penalties had Carlinville with eight for 65 yards and Hillsboro had five for 60 yards.

Rain early Friday caused the field to become a bit soft with some divots on the field, but it did not seem to affect the game in any manner.

“It (rain) stopped at the right time, the wind blew at the right time,” C. Easterday said. “We have a nice crown on our field and other than it looks a little rough, we didn’t tear it up at all. We used the same two balls all night. Field-condition wise, it wasn’t really a factor.”

Carlinville’s Tucker Hughes (33) plows through a big hole from the offensive line for some yardage Friday night against Hillsboro.