Vandalia takes advantage of CHS mistakes in first half

Vandalia takes advantage of CHS mistakes in first

Four first-half turnovers and some other unfortunate circumstances were too much for the Carlinville football team to overcome Friday night.

In their home opener, the Cavies fell to visiting Vandalia 27-18, just the second loss in the series since Vandalia joined the South Central Conference in 1997. Both teams are 1-1 on the season, with the Cavies hosting another 1-1 team, Greenville, on Friday in what is sure to be a hard-fought football game between two strong programs.

The loss was offset by a strong running game by junior Jacob Dixon, who had 222 yards on 31 carries with all three touchdowns in the game for the Cavaliers.

“We made some mistakes offensively that we just couldn’t recover from,” Carlinville coach Chad Easterday said. “I thought they did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage on us in the first half. We got some things figured out in the second half but just dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of.”

The game started with a turnover, and the half didn’t get much better for the Cavaliers. The Vandals recovered a fumble on the first play of the game, scored four plays later and were never headed.

After recovering the first fumble at the Carlinville 37 yard line, Robert Bradley established himself as a force with a 26-yard touchdown run four plays later to make it 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.

Carlinville appeared to get some steam going on offense on its next possession. Chandler Seago, filling in at quarterback for the injured Adam Walton, completed a 15-yard pass play to Konnor Emmons. Seago added a 15-yard run as they got as close as the Vandals’ 22-yard line. Then Seago was hit from behind and fumbled the ball away two plays later, ending that drive.

Vandalia to its credit didn’t let the foot off the pedal, driving 71 yards in five plays, as Kelly Jones caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from Richie Well to make it 14-0 with 5:24 left in the opening quarter.

The Cavies again drove down field but again turned the ball over, this time on fourth down, at the Vandal 22-yard line. The game went to the second quarter with a 14-point spread.

Following an exchange of punts, the Vandals would drive 62 yards in eight plays. Well completed a couple of big pass plays on the drive and Bradley scored from four yards out, making it 21-0 with 8:26 left until halftime.

It would get worse for the Cavaliers, unfortunately, before it got better. The Cavies fumbled the ball away at the Vandal 26-yard line midway through the quarter. On Carlinville’s next possession, an interception by Marcus Zimmerman was returned to the Carlinville 28-yard line. The Vandals capitalized on a drive before the half, taking advantage of what should have been an interception instead turn into a reception for a gain on the play, and later converting on a fourth down and nine situation. It led to a 21-yard field goal by Boaz Haveman, and Vandalia took a 24-0 lead to halftime.

“We had a couple of drives stalled in the first half that are big drives,” Easterday said. “Couldn’t get the ball punched in the end zone. You do that, and pick an interception then the game has a different face to it I think.”

Stunned but not out of the game, the Cavaliers charged back in the second half. The defense had a couple of stops in the third quarter, while the offense drove down the field on its first possession before turning the ball over on downs at the Vandals’ seven-yard line. But the Cavies got their first points of the game late in the third quarter. They drove 66 yards in nine plays. Dixon had the first of his three touchdowns, a 31-yard score that made it 24-6 with 1:15 left in the third quarter.

The Vandals put together an important drive soon thereafter, getting a 26-yard field goal from Haveman. The drive took 13 plays and more importantly perhaps, took another seven-plus minutes off the clock. With 6:11 left in the game, the Cavies trailed 27-6.

But there was no quit in the Carlinville squad, as they came back moments later. Seago completed a 39-yard pass play on fourth down and 10 to Brady Jamieson, setting up a first and goal. Dixon’s two-yard run capped the 59-yard, 10-play drive and made it 27-12.

After the defense forced a three-and-out by Vandalia, Dixon took over once more, behind a strong offensive line, and motored 66 yards for the final touchdown of the game. A third straight two-point conversion fail made it 27-18 with just 1:58 left in the game.

Then a break for Carlinville, as Vandalia fumbled the ball back to Carlinville. Mitchell Bolomey pounced on the loose football at the Vandalia 42-yard line with 1:54 left in the game. A pair of Dixon runs moved the ball to the 29-yard line. But a couple of losses and a couple of incomplete passes would thwart the drive with 45 seconds left, and Vandalia came away with the win.

Carlinville had a 14-12 edge in first downs. Neither team was hurt by penalties, as Carlinville had four for 31 yards and Vandalia had five for 32 yards.

Seago completed 8 of 15 passes for 118 yards. Jarret Easterday also saw action under center, as the freshman completed two of seven passes in the game. Jamieson had six catches for 65 yards and Emmons had four catches for 52.

“We were expecting some mistakes, and they both had some,” Easterday said of the quarterback situation. “We’ll stay with both next week and see how the week goes. They only had four days (of practice) of being the starters. We were expecting some mishaps on offense but once again, we had some opportunities there. We dropped an interception. Those things hurt, and maybe we weren’t mentally prepared.”

Matt Bolomey had 17 tackles for Carlinville. Broedy Long had 14 tackles, four solo, and Zach Simons had 12 tackles.

For Vandalia, Well completed eight of 17 passes for 154 yards. Bradley finished with 107 yards rushing on 26 attempts. Jones caught four passes for 82 yards.

Next up is Greenville. The Comets are 1-1, coming off a loss at Southwestern. So this early in the season, it is a big game for each squad.

“Greenville’s always a big game for us,” Easterday said. “Both have been in the top third of the conference for the past four or five years. They’re always wanting to be us and we’re always wanting to beat them.”