MAPLE PARK – The Kaneland football team ran into a team on a mission Friday night.
In both of its losses this season, Morris had gotten off to slow starts on the road. Before Friday night’s game, Morris coach Alan Thorson challenged his team to not do it again.
Whatever he said worked.
Morris (5-2, 2-1) began the Northern Illinois Big 12 East contest by holding Kaneland to a three-and-out, sparked by a 10-yard sack by Sean Grogan. Then, fullback Keagan Sobol broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run on Morris’ first play from scrimmage, providing the opening shot in a 34-3 victory.
“We knew we had to get out of the gates quick,” Sobol said. “Kaneland can put up points, so we knew we had to keep up with them. Our first two road games, we didn’t start off very well, but you could tell even on the bus that this game was going to be different.”
Morris kept running all night, finishing with more than 450 rushing yards. Michael Feeney led the way with 171 yards on 18 carries, while Sobol had 126 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. Quarterback Ricky Del Favero also topped 100 yards, getting 101 on eight attempts, including a 45-yard touchdown.
In the frist quarter, Kaneland’s defense kept things close.
Drew Hahn recovered a fumble at the Morris 33, and the Knights reached the 9 before Andreas Matarangas kicked a 26-yard field goal to make it 7-3. On the next drive, Kaneland’s Luke Calabrese intercepted Del Favero at the Knights’ 41, but they couldn’t score.
Kaneland (3-4, 1-3) punted and Morris embarked on an 80-yard drive, highlighted by a 40-yard burst by Del Favero, that ended with Sobol in the end zone and a 14-3 lead with 8:54 to go until halftime. Morris linebacker Merrick Hairapetian recovered a Kaneland fumble at the Knights’ 46 and Sobol scored for the third time to make it 21-3.
Morris got the ball to start the second half and scored quickly, as Del Favero burst through the middle of the Kaneland defense for a 45-yard TD. Kaneland was able to get a 38-yard pass play from Jack Douglas to Alex Moses late in the third quafter that helped them reach the Morris 19, but Redskin defensive back Delaney Stutzki intercepted Douglas on the final play of the third quarter. Morris then salted the game away with an 11-play, 56-yard drive to make it 34-3.
“Kaneland is a good program and very well-coached,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “I challenged some of our guys before the game, and they responded. This is probably the best game we have played, start to finish, all season.”
Jonathan Alstott led Kaneland’s offense with 39 rushing yards on 10 carries, while Douglas passed for 91 yards.