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The Illini West Chargers continued their recent strong play last Saturday afternoon in posting a 32-6 victory over the visiting Spring Valley Hall Red Devils.
A strong running game and a swarming defense proved to be a winning combination as the Chargers won their second consecutive game, and third in their last four outings, to improve their season record to 4-4 overall.
After receiving the opening kick-off, Illini West needed only 2 plays to reach the end zone.
Senior fullback Kayden Guymon provided the big play with a 54-yard dash through the middle of the Red Devil defense.
Good blocks by guards Kirby Fecht and Kale Carlisle, in combination with a block by center Beau Passmore, paved the way for Guymon's long TD run. The conversion run was stopped by Hall and IW led 6-0 after only 36 seconds of playing time.
The Red Devils took the ensuing Charger kick-off and used their power run game to march to about midfield, The IW defense stopped the Hall ground attack at this point and forced the Red Devils to go to the air. Charger junior linebacker, Clay Huston, jumped the pass route, picked off the errant Red Devil toss, and then returned it 32 yards to the Hall 16-yard line.
Four plays later Charger senior QB Cole Carson found classmate Spencer Kirkenslager open in the middle of the end zone and connected with him for a 4-yard TD toss. The same combination hooked up for a successful 2-point conversion and a 14-0 IW lead at the 3:45 mark of the first period.
The Chargers wasted little time getting on the scoreboard again. After stopping the Red Devils on downs, the hosts quickly marched back into Red Devil territory.
A few plays later, senior halfback Connor Beals used good blocks from right tackle Cole Lee and tight end Ethan Neally to pave the way for a 5-yard TD run. The conversion pass fell short, but the Chargers now led 20-0.
It remained that score until after the halftime break, when midway through the 3rd quarter Carson capped a scoring drive with a 3-yard burst over the offensive left side.
Carson's run was made possible by good blocks from left tackle Grant Clark and tight end Kaleb Spiekermeier. The conversion failed, but Illini West now led 26-0.
The Chargers would find the end zone one more time in this contest, this time on a 16-yard run by Carson. The conversion pass failed and IW now led 32-0.
A late Red Devil TD run set the final score at 32-6 on this bright Saturday afternoon at Fuzz Berges Field.
The Chargers would outgain Hall 300 total yards to 223. Hall gained most of it's yardage in the middle of the field and the yardage totals are not really indicative of how lop-sided this game was in favor of the hosts.
The only really down-sides for IW were the 7 penalties for 45 yards and the interception throw in the 2nd period.
Guymon was the Chargers leading ground gainer with 83 yards on 6 carries.
Carson added 70 yards rushing and Beals picked up 56 yards on the ground. Alex Appel, Kyle Miller, Clay Huston, and Sonny Little split the rest of the carries and yardage up for the Charger ground game.
Linebackers Hayden Fox and Ben Gittings led the Illini West defensive effort with 9 tackles each. Defensive tackle Brett Appel was involved in 8 tackles, while Huston, Kirkenslager, Braxton Squier, Cole Lee, Kale Carlisle, John Martin, Dallas Neff, and Alec McCarty were all involved in multiple tackles during the game.
The Chargers will return to action this Friday night when they travel to Sherrard to take on the Tigers. The Tigers are 4-4 overall, just like the Chargers, thus setting up a "play-off' type scenario as the winner becomes at least play-off eligible and the loser definitely sees the end of their season. The game is slated to kick-off at 7:30 p.m. or 25 minutes after the conclusion of the fresh-soph preliminary game, which starts at 5:30 p.m.