June 08, 2023
Sports - Kane County

Sports - Kane County

Bulldogs hold off Hubs in wild one

BATAVIA– Two teams playing contrasting styles of football made for a seesaw battle with a wild finish Friday night as Batavia held off Rochelle, 34-28, in front of a packed house.

The Bulldogs (2-2 overall, 1-1 Western Sun Conference) piled up 271 yards through the air, with 176 of those coming in the first half. Quarterback Jordan Coffey hooked up with receivers Erich Zeddies (seven catches, 116 yards), Tyler Lindquist (six catches, 70 yards, one touchdown) and Ryan Webb (five catches, 66 yards, one touchdown) on several big plays.

The Bulldogs went ahead for good at 34-28 with 6:11 to go in the fourth quarter on one of running back Bai Kabba’s two touchdown runs, from 49 yards out.

Coffey’s counterpart, Nate Eyster of Rochelle (2-2, 0-2 WSC), had 10 carries in the first half, including touchdown runs of 12 yards and 3 yards. On the night, Rochelle rolled up 320 yards on the ground with three touchdowns.

Coming in, Rochelle thought it would be successful on the ground, coach Kevin Crandall said. The Hubs, however, turned the ball over four times.

“Our kids played their hearts out, but the turnovers caught up with us,” Crandal said. “Give Batavia credit, they made big plays when they needed to.”

Batavia led most of the first half, but Eyster’s second TD run tied the score with 28 seconds remaining in the second quarter. After the ensuing kickoff, Coffey was picked off by Rochelle’s Ben Schwartz, who returned it to the Batavia 7-yard line. Then, with no time on the clock, Eyster found Schwartz in the end zone for a TD to put Rochelle up, 22-14, going into halftime.

Batavia regrouped, and the second half saw the Bulldogs get their own ground game moving. Kabba had 10 carries in the second half for 125 yards.

Even with Kabba’s second-half heroics, this one came down to the final play of the game as Rochelle, trailing 34-28, had one last chance when it moved the ball to the Batavia 29 with 11 seconds left. After consecutive pass interference penalties against the Bulldogs, the final pass from Eyster fell incomplete in the end zone with no time remaining.

Batavia coach Mike Gaspari gave Rochelle credit for playing a great football game, and also recognized his leader, Coffey.

“I give a lot of credit to Coffey to come back in the second half after the interception at the end of the second quarter,” Gaspari said.

He also credited his defense, which has struggled in the early part of the season.

“Our kids played much more physical defensively than we’ve been playing,” he said. “We did a good job most of the night – we bent but didn’t break.”