By Tony Hooker
Villa Grove head coach Heath Wilson had been waiting for a game where all three facets, offense, defense, and special teams, showed out.
Consider the wait over. Villa Grove used a dominant offense, along with a bend but don’t break defense and outstanding special teams play to post a 55-6 win over the Tri-County Titans on Friday, October 8.
Tri-County won the toss and elected to receive the ball, and after a fine Daelin Price kickoff and good downfield coverage by the Blue Devils, began their first possession at their own 15-yard line. Two runs by beefy full back John Kibler (31 carries for 121 yards) netted just two yards, a third down pass from Jack Armstrong (4-7 for four yards) to Gaige Cox came up short of the line to get as Brady Clodfelder stopped him just short of the first down marker.
A shanked punt, covering just nine yards, set VG up at the Titan 32, and it took just two plays for the Devils to reach pay dirt. A first down run from Luke Zimmerman gained 12 yards, and then Parker Stevens did the rest, bursting over the left side of the line as Zach Wells, Deandre’ Rinehart and Gunner Cline sealed off any Tri-county pursuers and raced into the endzone untouched. Price (7-8 on extra points) then tacked on the extra point, and with 10:05 left in the first quarter the score stood at 7-0.
Price’s kickoff sailed into the endzone for a touchback, and on first down, disaster struck for Tri-County, as Luke Zimmerman (six solos, five assists) pounced on a Kibler fumble that Elijah Kiesel had forced, giving VGHS great field possession at the 24. A two-yard Zimmerman run was followed by a delay of game penalty, but QB Liam Barr (6-11 for 141 yards and 2 TDS) calming found Layne Rund (four catches for 106 yards, two TD’s) behind the defense for a 27-yard scoring strike. Price’s extra point again split the uprights, and with 8:58 left in the first, the score stood at 14-0.
The defense, led by Elijah Kiesel (three solos, six assists) again stood tall, forcing another punt which rolled dead at the VG 35. Again, it took two plays for the Blue Devils to score. A first down run by Gunner Cline went for three yards, and then Stevens (four carries for 100 yards and two TD’s) did the rest, going 62 yards for the score. Price’s extra point made it 21-0 with 5:09 left in the opening stanza.
Tri-County then put together a drive, moving to the VG 35 yard line before disaster struck once again as the ball squirted away and ended up at the VG 46, where Daelin Price, who had made the strip, pounced on it.
The Blue Devils started the second quarter by throwing two straight incompletions after Zimmerman’s first down run lost two, bringing on punter Elijah Kiesel. Kiesel, punting from his own 44, boomed a towering boot to the Tri-County 12, where it was mishandled by the Titan receiver. Liam Barr, the first man on the scene for VG, alertly knocked the Tri-County player off the ball, allowing Brady Clodfelder to recover it in the end zone for the TD. Price’s extra point again was good, and with 11:35 left in the half, the VG lead stood at 28-0, and it felt like it could be VG’s night.
The Titans refused to quit, however and mounted an epic 18 play scoring drive that burned 9:52 seconds of clock, making the score 28-6 with 1:43 remaining in the half.
The Blue Devils went right back to work, however Barr found Zimmerman for 26 yards to move quickly into Titan territory at the 45. Zimmerman then carried it to the 36, Barr found Rund for 24 more to the 12 and then Zimmerman carried it for 11 more, reaching the 1. A quick snap and QB sneak from Barr reached pay dirt, and with 26 seconds left in the half, the score was 35-6.
After receiving the third quarter kickoff, VG again went to work, and on third and 15 from the Titan 28, Rund was again able to sneak behind the D and Barr found him for the score. This time, the extra point attempt was no good, and with 8:17 left in the third, it was 41-6 VG. The two teams then traded possessions as the third quarter ended.
Villa Grove would add two more TD’s, one on a one-yard Layne Rund keeper after a nifty fake to Zimmerman, and the other on a thrilling 25 yard stop and go scamper from Gunner Cline to set the final margin at 55-6.