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The Illini West Chargers posted a big homecoming win last Friday night by defeating the visiting Macomb Bombers 50-7. The West Central Conference win gives IW a 1-1 mark in the WCC and improves the Chargers overall record to 3-2.
The Chargers roared out of the gate in this one as they scored on each of their first four possessions. A 12-play drive on their first possession led to a 1-yard touchdown run by senior halfback Nolan Ard. The conversion run failed but the Chargers led 6-0 after the games first 6 minutes.
After the IW defense forced a Bomber punt, the Chargers took over around their own 20-yard line. Six plays later they were celebrating in the south end zone following a 68-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Braden Bennett to senior end Dusty Waddell. Bennett threw to Ard for the successful 2-point conversion giving IW a 14-0 lead.
Another Charger defensive stop led to another Bomber punt and the IW offense was set up again at about their own 35 yard line. Four plays later Bennett would toss to senior halfback Jacob Sholl in the right flat. Sholl would do the rest of the work as he raced down the right side-line for a 35-yard score. A big block down field by senior tight end Colton Mellinger sprung Sholl for the final 15 yards of his journey. Ard would run in the conversion for a 22-0 IW lead.
The Chargers would get on the board one more time before the half as the defense again forced a Bomber punt. An errant snap on the punt attempt led to the Macomb punted being tackled deep in his own territory.
IW would take advantage two plays later as Ard would race in from 17 yards out on a counter play over the offensive right side. Good blocks by right guard Christian Peacock and right tackle Alex Rhodes helped pave the way for Ard's TD run. The conversion run stopped, setting the half time score at 28-0 IW.
The Chargers scored three more times after the intermission. The first would come early in the 4th quarter following a scoreless 3rd period. An 8-play drive was capped by a 2 yard Dalton Merry run over the Chargers left side. Nice blocks by left tackle Jensen Corzatt, left guard Avery Fader, and center Kyle Jacoby helped spring Merry into the end zone. Merry also added the conversion run on the same play for a 36-0 Illini West advantage.
Another defensive stand forced Macomb to punt again and Sholl made the Bombers play with a 44-yard punt return to set the Chargers up in great field position. Nolan Ard would race the final 21-yards on the very next play to the north end zone to move the Charger lead to 42-0.
The Bombers finally got on the scoreboard on their next possession but their excitement was short-lived as the Chargers' kick-off return unit sprung Ard for an 82-yard kick-off return for the Chargers final TD of the night.
The final points on the conversion were produced this time by a pass from junior quarterback Jacob Douglas to sophomore halfback Joe Nicol. That set the final margin at 50-7 in favor of the Chargers.
The Charger defense had a very good night limiting Macomb to only 121 total yard of offense. The Bombers were limited to just over 3-yards per play on their 40 offensive snaps. Leading tacklers for the Chargers were senior linebacker Kaden Huston (17 total tackles) and senior cornerback Dalton Merry (11 total tackles).
Others on the Charger tackle chart were Austin Curfman (8 total stops), Dusty Waddell (4), Nolan Ard (2), Nate Palmer (2), Colton Ragain (5), Brandon Stanuch (2), Taylor Boston (3), Colton Mellinger (7), Alex McCune (4), Ethan Johnson (4), Nick Greenslaugh (1), Jace Norman (2), Jeffrey Ufkes (2), Domimc Foster (2), and Brady Adkisson (1).
The Charger offense was efficient and effective on this night, picking up 384 yards on 45 offensive plays. The offensive output includes 260 yards on the ground and 124 via the pass.
Ard was the leading rusher with 95 yards on 14 carries, followed closely by senior fullback Austin Curfman with 12 attempts for 87 yards. Sholl made it a three-pronged rushing attack with 62 yards on 6 carries. Also chipping in on the ground were Bennett (8 yards on 3 carries) and Merry (8 yards on 3 carries).
Bennett also had an effective night throwing the football as he hit successfully on 4 of his 6 pass attempts for 124 yards for 2 TD's and no interceptions. Waddell had the long 68 yard TD grab, Shall had two catches for 41 yards, and Merry had a catch for 15 yards.
The Chargers will return to action this Friday night when they travel north to Monmouth to play the Monmouth-Roseville Titans in a pivotal West Central Conference game. The Titans are 2-3 overall, but have won their last two, after a tough 0-3 start against a very rugged opening schedule. Both teams have play-off aspirations and this game will go a long way into determining which team will reach the post season. Kick-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. at Sunny Lane Field on the west side of Monmouth.