The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
The Illini West Chargers overcame the visiting West Hancock Titans, and their own mistakes, last Friday night in posting a 24-8 West Central South Division football victory.
The Chargers had to overcome 9 penalties and a pair of turnovers in order to secure the win that improved their overall record 3-4.
The Chargers got off to a quick start as they scored on their opening possession to take the early lead.
Senior halfback Jack Bastert raced 51 yards down the visitors sideline and into the south end zone for the score.
Fellow senior halfback Connor Beals added a successful conversion run for an early 8-0 IW advantage.
From that point, most of the rest of the first half saw the Chargers play stout defense in not only overcoming the Titan's spread offense, but numerous mistakes by the Charger's offense as well.
The biggest mistake, a pass interception, was returned by a Titan defender early in the 2nd quarter to tie the score at 8-all.
Finally, late in the first half, the Illini West offense regained its composure and found some momentum against the blitzing West Hancock defense.
Senior fullback Kayden Guymon produced the big play of the scoring drive by racing 81 yards with a quick trap play all the way to the Titan 4-yard line.
Good blocks by Charger center Beau Passmore, and guards Kirby Fecht and Kale Carlisle helped to spring Guymon.
Beals capped the drive with a 4-yard run over the Charger right side to the end zone.
Blocks by right tackle Cole Lee and Titan end Ethan Neally paved the way for the go-ahead score.
A well-thrown extra-point pass from senior quarterback Cole Carson to classmate Spencer Kirkenslager gave Illini West a 16-8 lead they would take into the halftime break.
The Chargers came out of the intermission still sputtering a bit on offense, but still playing very good defense to protect their lead.
The offense finally put together a scoring drive late in the 3rd quarter, set up by nice runs by Beals (24 yards), Carson (12 yards), and Guymon (19 yards).
Guymon finally scored with 1:21 left in the 3rd period on a 3-yard run over the Charger left side.
Good blocks by tight end Kaleb Spiekermeier and tackle Grant Clark helped put Guymon in the end zone.
The Chargers used the same combination on the conversion and Guymon again found the end zone for a 24-8 Charger lead.
That two-touchdown advantage would prove to be enough for the Charger defense as they continued to deny the Titans entry into the end zone.
Although, West Hancock would gain 254 total yards, most of it was in the middle of the field.
The Charge defense bent a little but never, never broke on this night.
Senior defensive back John Martin led the Charger defense on this night with a pair of interceptions and two tackles. Defensive end Spencer Kirkenslager had a busy night as well with six tackles, two sacks, and a fumble recovery.
Junior linebacker Ben Gittings topped the Charger tackle chart with 9 total tackles, while nose tackle Braxton Squier added 5 tackles, including two for lost yardage.
The Charger tackle charter also included linebacker Clay Huston and defensive tackle Alec McCarty with 4 each, and 3 tackles each by Guymon, Sonny Little, Hayden Fox, and Brett Appel. Others on the chart were Spiekermeier, Alex Appel, Ethan Neally, Jack Bastert and Cole Lee.
The Charger offense attack produced 400 total yards, but penalties and turnovers prevented them from producing more penalties.
The ground attack yielded 383 yards and 49 carries, while Carson hit on 3 of 7 pass attempts for 17 yards.
Guymon had a big night running the football, gaining 202 yards on 21 carries.
Bastert added 89 yards on 9 carries, while Beals picked up 64 yards on his 9 attempts. Carson, Alex Appel, Kyle Miller, and Sonny Little split the other 10 carries for 38 yards.
The Chargers will return to action this Saturday afternoon when they host the Spring Valley Hall Red Devils. The games is slated for a 1:00 p.m. kick-off following a junior varsity game set to kick-off at 11:00 a.m.