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Villa Grove Heritage Blue Devils bucked by Cerro Gordo Broncos

By Tony Hooker
For once, winning or losing momentarily took a back seat, as the VGH Blue Devils and Cerro Gordo Bement Broncos started their 2020-21 football season about 30 weeks later than expected. I say momentarily, because as soon as the whistled sounded, these two teams went to work, with CGB using their experience to motor to a 33-14 win over Villa Grove Heritage, who had 17 players on the sidelines due to not having the requisite number of practices under their belts due to COVID-19 contact tracing.

The game started out just as the Blue Devil coaches drew it up, with Quarterback Blake Smith carrying the ball three times for 27 yards, finding Liam Barr for a key third down conversion at the CGB 34 and finally directing traffic and hitting Carson Howard (unoffically four catches for 62 yds, one td) from 34 yards out for the score, giving the Devils a 6-0 lead at the 6:09 mark of the first quarter.  

The Devils defense was again cooking, and after Logan Nohren’s (11 tackles, two for loss, one QB sack) huge third down sack of Cerro Gordo Bement’s quarterback on third down, things looked good for the home forces.  Unfortunately, fortune didn’t shine brightly on the blue and gold for long, as a mishandled pitch from Smith to Parker Stevens on first down resulted in the Broncos taking over at the VGH 34. Ten plays later, CGB scored, and added an extra point to take a 7-6 lead at the 2:58 mark of the stanza.

Again, VGH found success moving the ball, but ultimately turned the ball over on downs at the CGB 20. Once again, the defense stood strong, forcing a punt from the CGB 34 that rolled dead at the Blue Devil 32. After a six-yard Smith scamper, disaster struck once again as Smith’s pass was picked off, setting up the Broncos at the VGH 27.  It only took three plays for them to reach pay dirt, and after the extra point sailed wide, CGB had their first lead of the game, at 13-6 with 6:28 remaining in the first half.  

This time, the Devils offense stalled and forced an Elijah Kiesel punt from the ten to the Cerro Gordo Bement 45, from where it only took two plays for the Broncos to score again.  On first down, CGB went for a home run ball that caught the Blue and Gold defense by surprise, with the CGB wide receiver streaking down the east side line to the one, where he fumbled on his own volition.  His miscue only delayed the inevitable, however, as CGB pounded it in from there to take a 19-6 lead with 4:43 left in the half, where the score would remain until half time.

The second half started with VGH, led by Carson Howard (nine tackles, including one for loss) forcing a CGB punt, but unfortunately, the Devil’s O couldn’t gain ground and was once again forced to punt.  This time it took the Broncos just five plays to reach the VGH endzone, setting the score at 27-6 with 5:37 left in the third period.  

Once again, misfortune struck the Devils as the Kickoff caromed off a VGH front man and was recovered by CGB at the VGH 47.  However once again Liam Barr, (12 tackles, two for loss) Parker Stevens (six tackles one for loss) and the Villa Grove Heritage defense bowed their necks and thwarted the CGB drive. Any celebration was short lived however, as VGH, in desperation mode saw a fourth down play go awry when Smith was sacked, resulting in CGB taking over at the Villa Grove Heritage 19-yard line.  From there, it took just two plays for the Broncos to cross the demoralized Blue Devils’ goal line to make the score 33-6 with 11:53 left in the contest.  

The Blue Devils refused to lay down, however and put together an 11 play, 58-yard drive to the end zone.  Logan Nohren (four catches for 67 yards) was on the receiving end of a Blake Smith (12-25 for 156 yards, two td’s, three INT’s) bullet that he carried 40 yards to the CGB 11.  An illegal formation penalty set them back 5, but Smith calmly found Matt Gulick (two catches for 22 yards, one td) in the southeast corner of the endzone for the score. Smith then faded the two-point conversion pass to a leaping Carson Howard, to set the score at 33-14 with 7:24 remaining. The two teams then traded possessions until the final horn sounded, with the score still standing at 33-14.   The Blue Devils will hit the road on March 26 for a 7 p.m. contest on the artificial turf of Argenta Oreana.

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