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Chargers Top Titans 44-8

The Illini West Chargers hosted the West Hancock Titans last Friday night and left little doubt in a convincing 44-8 victory in the "Battle of Hancock County". The Chargers improve to 5-3 with the win, while West Hancock falls to 3-5.

The Chargers forced the Titans to punt on the game's opening possession and then needed only 3 plays to find the end zone themselves. Senior fullback Austin Curfman would use good blocks from senior tight end Colton Mellinger, junior tackle Alex Rhodes, and junior guard Christian Peacock to find an opening in the Titan defense and then raced the final 22 yards into the south end zone. The conversion run failed but IW led 6-0 with 8:38 left in the first period.

The teams would exchange possessions for the rest of first period and half of the 2nd quarter until a big special team's play put the Chargers back on the scoreboard midway trough that 2nd period. Senior halfback Nolan Ard fielded a Titan punt just across midfield and then split the West Hancock defense as he raced 57 yards to the north end zone for the second Charger touchdown. A conversion pass from Charger senior quarterback Braden Bennett to Ard pushed the IW lead to 14-0.

The Charger defense then stepped up and forced a quick Titan possession and punt to give Illini West a chance to score again right before the half. This IW scoring drive was only two plays and culminated in Curfman scoring from 12-yards out. The big play on the drive was a 24-yard pass from Bennett to senior halfback Dalton Merry. A successful conversion run by Curfman pushed the IW lead to 22-0 heading into the half-time break.

After the break the Charger's reasserted their dominance by taking possession after a Titan kickoff and driving the length of the field in 13 plays. The final 6-yards came on a 6-yard scoring run by Ard. He also would run in the successful conversion for a 30-0 Charger advantage.

After a Titan touchdown on the following possession closed the gap to 30-8, the Chargers responded with another scoring drive to retake any momentum West Hancock may have temporarily built up. This time the Chargers would use the good blocking of senior tight end Dusty Waddell, junior tackle Jensen Corzatt, senior guard Avery Fader, and senior center Kyle Jacoby to pound away at the center and right side of the Titan defense.

The final two yards of the drive would come on a short touchdown blast by Curfman. Bennett would then make a quick toss over the middle to Waddell for the extra points and a 38-8 Charger lead with 3:34 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Chargers would score one more time in this one as they would put together a final drive on their next possession. A 26-yard run by Ard would cap the IW scoring on this night and set the final score at 44-8 in favor of the home team.

The Chargers outgained the Titans in this game 286 yards total to 163. Most of the damage was done on the ground in this one as the two teams combined for only 3 pass attempts and one completion (Bennett's afore-mentioned 24-yard toss to Merry). The Charges ran the ball 43 times while West Hancock had 44 rush attempts.

Curfman was the leading rusher for Illini West with 159 yards on 24 carries, while Ard chipped in 83 yards on 12 attempts. Merry added 11 yards on 2 carries, and Bennett had 3 carries for 9 yards.

The Charger tackle chart included the following with their total stops (solos plus assisted tackles) listed: Curfman (4), Waddell (8), Merry (3), Ard (3), Jacob Sholl (4), Kyle Tanner (4), Kaden Huston (12), Colton Ragain (3), Brandon Stanuch (4), Jeffrey Ufkes (1), Avery Fader (4), Taylor Boston (4), Colton Mellinger (2), Christian Peacock (2), Jensen Corzatt (1), Jace Norman (1), and Ross Neff (2).

The Chargers will return to action this Friday night when they host the Tolono Unity Rockets. Tolono is located over by Champaign and is a traditional 3-A state gridiron power. They are 7-1 overall and are riding high as they knocked off 3-A #1 ranked St. Joe Ogden last Friday night.

This is the final regular season game for both teams and kick-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. There is a junior varsity game prior to the varsity contest and it is scheduled to kick-off at 4:30 p.m.