Knights emerge with 51-45 victory in round one
Photo: Ryan Fuchs (10) makes a key 28-yard catch in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 51-45 slugfest in round one of the Class 5A playoffs. The senior’s grab was his only catch of the game, but continued a drive that ended on a Zack Martinelli touchdown catch. Photo by John DiDonna
KHS has date with St. Francis Spartans in second round
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—On the surface, it wouldn’t seem like a Class 5A No. 16 seed like the Belvidere Bucs would make any kind of a splash in the first-round matchup with the Knights football roster on Friday.
It turned out that it wasn’t until very late in the fourth quarter that Kaneland was able to throw the NIC-10 school out of the playoff pool.
Belvidere (5-5) outgained Kaneland in total yards by a 557-478 count, and had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth, until Knight Kory Harner leapt up and beat his Buc counterpart to the pass, securing a 51-45 win.
“I think that was Kory’s first interception,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “He picked a great time to do it. We just tell the kids to keep playing. They got some things on us, and our kids just kept playing and we made a play at the end.”
Kaneland (10-0) hosts the No. 8 seed St. Francis of Wheaton, who eliminated Burlington Central on Saturday by a final of 27-10.
For Kaneland, this brings coach Fedderly’s postseason mark to 4-3 since taking over the reigns in 2007.
A year ago, Kaneland began its playoff quest with a running clock, 42-0 win over Chicago’s King High School.
The leading rusher for the contest was Buc talent Marcus Gooden, who rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Belvidere had four rushing scores on the night.
However, Kaneland went to a balanced rushing attack that shared the wealth and yielded good things when needed most.
Quinn Buschbacher had 80 yards and two rushing scores, followed by Jesse Balluff with 78 yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Drew David had 69 yards on 10 tries.
“I think our pass and our running game really complement each other,” David said. “We can’t always rely on the pass to win us games, and we can’t always rely on the run to win us games. Today, we decided we were going to pound it.”
Belvidere QB Troy Vandenbroek was 15-for-25 for 278 yards, with two touchdowns and one pick. David was 13-for-21 for 251 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Sean Carter of KHS had 134 yards receiving on four catches.
KHS scored first on a 43-yard TD run by Buschbacher just 1 minute, 54 seconds into the game, and scored again on a David one-yard sneak with 3:53 left in the frame, with the extra-point attempt botched making it 13-0.
The Bucs stormed back on the first play of the next drive thanks to an 80-yard scamper by Gooden. Gooden gave Belvidere the lead on a three-yard TD run with :17 to go for a 14-13 lead.
Down 17-13, Kaneland went to the rush again and had Balluff score on two one-yard carries within 3:15 of each other, taking a 27-17 lead in the second. Vandenbroek closed the first-half scoring with a nine-yard run with :24 left to close within 27-24.
In the third quarter, David found Zack Martinelli for a 14-yard strike with 9:32 to go for a 34-24 lead. With 1:12 to go in the frame, Buschbacher scored from four yards out to go up 41-24.
Kaneland players and fans alike had to withstand a feisty fourth quarter as Belvidere didn’t go away.
Reed Greiter caught a 17-yard TD pass with 10:01 to go to close within 41-31. After getting the ball back on a pick, Vandenbroek ran for a 40-yard score on the next play to make it 41-38 with 9:46 to go.
Buschbacher then took the ensuing kickoff 94 yards down to the one, where Balluff plunged in for a 48-38 lead with 9:26 to go.
Kyle Harris caught a 38-yard TD pass to close within 48-45 with 8:15 to go. Jake Razo recovered the onside kick attempt, and Matt Rodriguez kicked a 40-yard field goal to set things at 51-45 with 5:19 to go.
Belvidere drove into KHS territory, and on a 2nd-and-20 from the Knight 33, Harner came up with the crucial pick, leading to Kaneland running out the clock.
The winner of the Knight-Spartan contest faces either Sycamore or Rochelle the following week.
The road ahead
The 4 remaining Northern Illinois Big XII teams went 2-2 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Kaneland 51 vs. Belvidere 45
Morris 35 vs. Morton 24
Sycamore 36 vs. King 29
Rochelle 43 vs. Urban Prep 41