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High School Highlights

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Steve Robinson

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NCHS Stays Undefeated After Week 2, Beating BHS, 54-30

by Steve Robinson
NORMAL – Prior to the start of Normal Community High School’s game against Bloomington High School at Ironmen Field Friday, both teams were notched on top of the Big 12 Conference standings having won their individual Week 1 games. But after their head-to head showdown, it was the Ironmen who remained undefeated, having thrilled a home crowd with a 54-30 victory. The win gave the Ironmen a 2-0 record overall, which included in the Big 12 Conference standings.
The first half was highlighted by three key NCHS drives for the scores. The first being junior quarterback Daylen Boddie’s dash for a 73 yard touchdown followed by an extra point try by junior kicker Josue Nsukami, giving the Ironmen a quick 7-0 lead. That was followed by a 45 yard scoring run by senior running back Varshaun Dixon after which Nsukami missed the extra point, upping the lead to 13-0.
Later in the same quarter, Bloomington got on the scoreboard with an 85 yard kickoff return by junior wide receiver Drew Crooks, but missed the point after, cutting NCHS’ lead, 13-6. Boddie would counter with a 43 yard scoring dash to complete the Ironmen’s next possession, putting NCHS up, 20-6, after Nsukami’s next extra point. There would be one more score before another large scoring march took place courtesy of Dixon, dashing 53 yards for a touchdown, followed by another Nsukami kick, putting NCHS up, 34-6 at 8:48 in the second quarter.
Senior running back C. J. Chastain’s 94 yard interception return for a touchdown at 3:37 in the second quarter, followed up by a missed Nsukami extra point would give NCHS a 40-6 lead with 3:30 left until halftime.
A 10-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Colton Sandage to junior wide receiver Griffen Kolic cut NCHS’ lead, 40-12 by halftime, following a failed BHS 2-point scoring run try.
NCHS senior wide receiver Jalen Coleman’s 43 yard scoring dash four plays into the third quarter, followed by junior Camron Hinman’s extra point, pushed NCHS up, 47-12 with 11:31 left in the quarter. As a result of their being a 30-point difference in the score, game officials were required to employ a continuously running clock, stopping it only for team timeouts or injury timeouts.
An interception halted the next drive for BHS (1-1 overall and Big 12 Conference), and placed the ball on the Purple Raiders’ 13 yard line. From there, Boddie ran for NCHS’ next score at 9:26 in the third quarter followed by Nuskami’s next extra point. That allowed NCHS’s lead to climb to 54-12.
But that turned out to be the final points the Ironmen would score in the game. The Purple Raiders would score once to close out the third quarter as Sandage scored from one yard out, 54-18, followed by a failed 2-point attempt at the 1:03 mark. 
Sandage scored from 7 yards out at 4:35 in the fourth quarter, but a 2-point conversion failed, although it did slice NCHS’ lead to 54-24. The Purple Raiders’ last score of the night was a 47 yard touchdown pass from Sandage to senior wide receiver James Ellis in the closing minutes of the contest, followed by a failed 2-point try, resulting in the final score.
“There was a really good first half on both sides of the ball,” said NCHS head coach Wes Temples. “Our kids were locked in early and did well.”
“Our kids were excited for the opportunity,” Temples added. “I think our kids came to play with a different mindset than they had in a while, so it was fun to watch.”
“What hurts the most is the feeling you could have beat them,” lamented BHS head coach Joe Walters. He added interceptions Sandage threw early in the game may have rattled the 6 foot-2, 195 pound senior quarterback.

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ISU leashes Butler Bulldogs 45-0

The Illinois State football team made a statement to kick off the 2017 season, routing Butler 45-0 under the lights on Saturday at Hancock Stadium in front of 10,840 fans.
The Redbirds held the Bulldogs to just 41 yards of total offense in the game, which set a Hancock Stadium record for fewest total yards allowed to an opponent. The ISU defense also did not allow a yard rushing to Butler, which only picked up three first downs all evening. On the flip side, the ISU offense racked up 519 yards of total offense, with 320 of those yards coming on the ground.
Quarterback Jake Kolbe had a solid evening, going 18-for-29 with 194 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Christian Gibbs who finished the night with 79 yards and the two scores on five catches. Markel Smith paced the rushing attack with 79 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown and Artiss Henderson added 56 on five carries. James Robinson (39 yards, 1 TD) and Jordan Birch (37 yards, 1 TD) rounded out the balanced running attack for the Redbirds.
Both offenses struggled to get going in the first quarter, as neither team was able to score and the Bulldogs were held to -6 yards rushing through the first 15 minutes of the game. Illinois State was able to pin the Bulldogs deep in their own end on their final possession of the quarter, forcing punter Evan Biebel to punt from his own end zone. A fair catch by Spencer Schnell at the Butler 48 yard line gave the Redbirds great field position with just 1:11 left in the quarter.
A 12-yard completion from Kolbe to Gibbs started the drive and back-to-back runs of 13 and 14 yards respectively by Smith put the ball at the Butler 9 yard line as the first quarter came to an end. On the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Robinson took the handoff off left tackle, broke an initial tackle attempt and rumbled nine yards for the first score of the game. Sean Slattery’s extra point capped off the 4-play, 48-yard drive that gave ISU a 7-0 lead.
The Redbirds extended their lead later in the quarter with a methodical 9-play scoring drive that went 80 yards and took 5:03 off the clock. Starting at their own 20-yard line, Henderson broke free for a 28-yard run on the first play of the drive. From there, ISU chipped away and a personal foul penalty on a late hit on Kolbe as he was running out of bounds gave the Redbirds extended life in the drive. Three plays later, Kolbe connected with Gibbs for a 20-yard score as he dove and extended the football over the goal line for the second score of the game and Slattery’s extra point made the score 14-0 with 4:02 left in the half. A 46-yard field goal by Slattery just before halftime gave the Redbirds a 17-0 advantage at the break.
Kolbe then led the Redbirds on another long scoring drive midway through the third quarter, as he found Gibbs for their second touchdown connection of the game this time for 16 yards to widen the lead to 24-0 with 5:18 left in the quarter. On the ensuing possession, Mitchell Brees picked off Will Marty’s first pass attempt and returned it to the end zone 35 yards for the pick six to make the score 31-0 after Slattery’s extra point make.
A 7-play, 57-yard drive capped off by a 16-yard run by Smith just before the end of the third quarter widened the Redbird advantage to 38-0. On Illinois State’s first possession of the fourth quarter, the Redbirds added their third rushing touchdown of the game. Birch took the pitch from Malachi Broadnax off the left side and hurtled a would-be tackler and landed safely to carry the ball into the end zone for the touchdown. Slattery’s extra point made the score 45-0 in favor of ISU and that’s where it stayed until the final horn blew
The Redbirds return to action Sept. 16 at Eastern Illinois for a 2 p.m. kickoff, following their bye-week.

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