Photo: Nate Dyer (32) had a big night for the Knights, rushing for three touchdowns. Photo by Patti Wilk
Sterling can’t counter Kaneland (3-0) balance
STERLING, Ill.—Kaneland showed a great crossover move on Friday night, but not on the basketball court.
Instead, the Knights football roster (3-0) successfully handled its Northern Illinois Big XII West division opponent on the turf of Sterling Chevrolet Field, the home of the Sterling Golden Warriors (2-1), in a 48-7 running clock defeat.
For the Knights, it marked the 31st consecutive victory in the regular season, and marked the third win in the last four meetings between the two schools.
Kaneland beat Sterling in the Class 5A State quarterfinals in Maple Park in 2006, a 52-45 double-overtime epic. Sterling returned the favor in Whiteside County two years later in a 23-21 first-round meeting. KHS bested the visiting Golden Warriors on Sept. 14, 2012, 42-0.
KHS gained 369 yards of total offense, compared to 80 for the hosts, with ball-carrier Nate Dyer running like a bull for the Knights with a game-high 97 yards.
“We always got guys coming in and that’s what we strive for is if a man goes down, we get that second man in,” Dyer said. “Every team that comes in, we have to expect them to be a tough team. We just had to practice hard and play hard.”
Dyer (three TDs) took the brunt of the carries, along with Isaac Swithers and Dylan Nauert, spelling Jesse Balluff, who went down in pain after being tackled to the sidelines after a first-quarter pass. The senior was on crutches with a wrap on his knee after the contest.
Senior quarterback Drew David passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for a score of his own.
David and Co. were adept at extending plays for more gains on Friday.
“The line always does a great job with blocking,” David said. “(Sterling) kind of threw different coverage than we were expecting, so it kind of confused us a little bit, but we always have guys that can make plays.”
To get to the ground punishments, Kaneland began the first drive with passes to Balluff, John Pruett, Nauer and Balluff again to gather 62 yards of offense. Five plays later, David snuck in from the one-yard line for a 7-0 lead with 7:41 to go in the first.
After a punt by Sterling, Kaneland took over and went six plays for 45 yards, ending in an 18-yard fade pattern to Connor Fedderly, his first varsity touchdown. The score made it 14-0 with 3:15 to go.
KHS would score on its third consecutive drive when David, Swithers and Dyer would make productive carries, and Dyer would scamper for a 10-yard touchdown just six seconds into the second frame for a 20-0 edge.
Sterling would strike back in short fashion, thanks to a 38-yard touchdown pass to Logan Wharff 21 seconds later to close within 20-7. Wharff set up the play with a 60-yard kickoff return.
Later, Kaneland would get pick from Swithers to set up the ball at the Sterling 28. On the third run of the drive, Dyer’s six-yard score would make it 27-7 with 5:04 left in the half.
The Knights would convert on the next drive toward the end of the frame, with six runs and one pass. Dyer’s four-yard run completed a 60-yard drive for a 34-7 lead with 43 seconds before the buzzer.
Two third-quarter scores put the game on ice, as Nauert took an inside handoff and went 19 yards for a touchdown with 8:37 to go to make it 41-7, and Nauert made an up-for-grabs catch from the three with 4:19 to go for the 48-7 margin, completing an eight-play drive.
Photos by Patti Wilk: