First setback

By on October 24, 2013
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Photo: Senior John Pruett makes an athletic grab in Kaneland’s 31-21 loss to Sycamore Friday. Pruett had five receptions for 91 yards—a game high. Photos by Patti Wilk

Sycamore hands Kaneland its first regular season loss since 2009
SYCAMORE—It’s comforting that Friday’s post-game feeling took some getting used to for Kaneland High School football and its fans, but it didn’t make Friday’s 31-21 loss any better in the end.

In front of a boisterous Spartan crowd, the Sycamore hosts (8-0, 4-0 NIB-12), ranked No. 1 in the IHSA Class 5A playoff outlook, took advantage of an early-fourth quarter turnover and clutch third- and fourth-down conversions in the fourth frame to subdue the Knights, ranked No. 3 in the playoff outlook going into the game.

For the Knights (7-1, 3-1 NIB-12), it signaled the stoppage of a 35-game regular season win streak, and the first-ever loss suffered in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play since the 2010 inception. The last regular season loss Kaneland suffered was to Geneva on Oct. 16, 2009, in the dying days of the Western Sun Conference, 27-24 in overtime.

Kaneland has still won 49 of its last 54 overall contests.

Sycamore, which effectively clinched the NIB-12 East division, travels to Yorkville for Week 9, and tries to clinch an undefeated campaign against the playoff-hunting Foxes.

“Our guys didn’t let up, but those guys made plays and slung the ball, and they executed,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.

John Pruett had 91 yards receiving for the Knights, while Drew David had 248 yards passing and 69 yards on the ground.

Kaneland drew first blood with ball-control on the first drive of the game, converting on a five-yard touchdown run by Isaac Swithers with 7:37 to go in the first quarter for a 7-0 edge.

Sycamore got on the scoreboard exactly four minutes into the second quarter on a 30-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3, but KHS used six plays to score again on a nine-yard floater from Drew David to running back Nate Dyer by the edge of the end zone. The touchdown made it 14-3 with 5:28 to go in the half.

The Spartans got momentum back when reserve quarterback Nick Feuerbach, in for usual starter Devin Mottet, scampered for a 30-yard touchdown run and cut it to 14-10 with 3:15 to go in the half. The Knights’ ensuing drive came up barren after a 25-yard field goal attempt by Matt Rodriguez missed before halftime.

Sycamore punched through to begin the third quarter scoring thanks to a Dion Hooker run from the 11-yard line, giving the home squad a 17-14 lead with 9:03 left in the third.

Kaneland’s next drive featured a clutch 3rd-and-31 pass to John Pruett for a first down, and it was followed by a 28-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Brandon Bishop to give the Knights a 21-17 lead with 5:21 left in the frame.

The fourth quarter turned out to be decidedly in the Spartans’ favor on both sides of the ball. A David pass was tipped and intercepted by Jack Dargis at the Kaneland 44 and returned 14 yards to the Knight 30. Three plays later, Riley Hurley took it in from the 1-yard line for a 24-21 Sycamore edge just 48 seconds into the fourth.

Kaneland’s next drive ended in a punt, and Sycamore went on the offensive. A seven-play ended with a fourth-and-two desperation pass to Colan Treml for a 20-yard touchdown and a 31-21 lead with 5:11 to play.

Kaneland’s next drives came up empty after 14 plays with a short 35-yard field goal try and an interception, sending the longest win streak in the Chicagoland area up in smoke.

“We were playing for a conference championship, and that’s all we were worried about. All the other stuff I could care less about,” Fedderly said.

Photos by Patti Wilk