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The Illini West Chargers opened the 2015 season with a convincing 48-19 victory over the visiting Rockford Christian Royal Lions. The Chargers ran over, around and through the Royal Lions on their way to amassing 507 yards rushing on 40 carries. The Chargers are now 1-0 and will attempt to move to 2-0 when they travel to El Paso for another non-conference match-up with the El Paso-Gridley Titans next Friday. The Titans will also come in at 1-0.
The Chargers fell behind early Friday night as RC used a mixture of run and pass combined with IW penalties, to travel 70 yards to an early 6-0 lead. The Chargers responded almost immediately with a score of their own in only 2 plays. The touch down came on a 1-yard plunge by senior fullback Christian Peacock. It was set up by a 30-yard kick-off return by sophomore Connor Artman and a 54-yard run by Peacock on Illini West's first play.
After tying the game at 6-all, the Charger defense responded to force a RC punt on the visitor's next possession. This time IW used 5 plays to make their way to the end zone. This time senior halfback Kyle Tanner scored on a 34-yard run to give IW a 12-6 advantage.
The Charger defense forced a turnover on the next Royal Lion possession as IW junior safety Aden Trout broke in front of a Royal Lion receiver to intercept an RC pass attempt. IW used the gift to quick advantage, as charger sophomore QB Kennedy Gooding hit junior half-back Joe Adkisson in stride for a 51-yard scoring strike. The conversion pass from Gooding to Tanner was good this time for a 20-6 IW lead. The score would remain that way through half-time.
Illini West then came out and scored on their first three possessions of the third quarter to bust this game open. The three scores came on a 4-yard run by Tanner, a 71-yard sprint by Artman, and a 3-yard blast by Peacock. IW converted on only 1 of 3 point-after attempts for a 40-6 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Rockford Christian did not quit and responded with 2 scores in the 4th-quarter. The Chargers closed the scoring on the night however as Joe Adkisson broke free on a 33-yard run. A successful conversion pass from Gooding to Tanner set the final score at 48-19.
The Chargers used 7 ball carriers on this night and three of those topped the century mark. Peacock led the way with 20 carries for an even 200-yards rushing. Artman picked up 143 yards on only 4 carries, while Tanner netted 106 yards on 8 attempts.
Also chipping in to the IW rushing total were Adkisson with 4 carries for 51 yards, Jordan Patrick with 1 attempt for 3 yards, Gooding with 1 attempt for 3 yards, and Colby Claassen with 2 carries for a single yard.
Gooding also completed 1 of his 3 pass attempts, that being the long TD pass to Adkisson for 51 yards.
The Charger ground game was effective in large part due to a strong performance from their revamped offensive line. Tight ends Nick Greenslaugh and Jace Norman, tackles Jensen Corzatt and Brandon Stanuch, guards Alex McCune and Ross Neff, and center Dawson Ryner overcame their inexperience to pave the way for the big rushing night.
The Charger defense also played fairly well in their season debut, despite a rough start. Rockford Christian picked up 251 total yards, but most of that came very early and very late. The IW defense was much more solid throughout the middle two quarters.
Linebackers Jace Norman (12 total tackles) and Christian Peacock (9 total tackles) benefitted from solid line play by the guys in front of them. Defensive linemen Stanuch, Corzatt, Taylor Boston, and Dominic Foster all had 7 plus total tackle involvements (solos and assists).
Landon McKeown (DE), DeVante Jackson (DT), Brice Cook (DB), Aden Trout (DB), Alex McCune (LB)Tanner (S), Patrick (DB), and Neff (DT) all had at least 2 tackles. Trout also had the Charger's lone takeaway with his interception.