DeKALB — Batavia football coach Mike Gaspari can sympathize with DeKalb coach Kurt Johansen. Gaspari started his career at Batavia with six straight losing seasons.
He remembers the lean times; the three straight one-win seasons, and knows what it is like to be on the opposite end of a lopsided score.
So when Batavia (6-2, 5-1) beat DeKalb 53-14 Friday night at NIU’s Huskie Stadium, and gave itself a chance to play Geneva for the Western Sun Conference title next week, Gaspari recognized the DeKalb effort and plight.
“We were on that side of the ball, where DeKalb is,” Gaspari said. “I certainly feel for their situation and I’ll never forget being there.”
Batavia quarterback Jordan Coffey put on a passing-game clinic and with just two plays on offense, the Bulldogs grabbed a 14-0 lead. Coffey worked out of the shotgun, with a no huddle, empty backfield. He connected on his first 11 passes and finished 19-of-21 with 275 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.
“You tip your hat to Coffey,” DeKalb coach Kurt Johansen said. “He’s a heck of a quarterback, he’s probably the best quarterback we’ve seen.”
Down 14-0 the Barbs offense got going with a 36-yard run by Russ Diedrich, who also played fullback in addition to his usual linebacker position against Batavia. Barbs quarterback Frank Petras kept the drive alive, picking up a first down on a quarterback sneak on fourth and inches that pushed the Barbs into the red zone.
But prosperity proved to be too much for DeKalb to handle, as a holding penalty was followed up by a sack and then a false start. Suddenly, DeKalb faced a 4th and 29. The Barbs lined up in punt formation, but instead ran a fake, and punter Kyle Wallin’s pass fell incomplete.
Penalties continue to plague the Barbs as they racked up eight for 50 yards on a senior night where most of the crowd had left by half time as Batavia built a 40-6 lead.
Just when it looked like the only DeKalb drama on the night would be if someone was present to collect the 50/50 split the pot, Diedrich tackled Batavia’s backup quarterback Joe Scaccia in the end zone for a safety and Devin Hill returned the ensuing free kick 65 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
It wasn’t the kind of senior night Johansen envisioned, but he gave thanks to the group that he believes will one day be credited for stemming the losing tide that has swept through the program for years.
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t have given them a better show and send them off with a victory,” Johansen said. “For the seniors that have worked hard consistently and devoted their life to the program, I’ll be forever grateful to them. They are the foundation; the reason why we’ll be where we are going to be in a couple years.”
Senior running back Damian Nelson led DeKalb with 18 carries for 150 yards. Barbs’ quarterback Frank Petras was 9-of-26 for 166 yards and a touchdown; a ten-yard strike to Landon Hughes in the second quarter.
But that provides little consolation for DeKalb (1-7, 1-5) which has lost four straight games. Even though the road has been rough, Johansen has faith in the success the lower levels are experiencing and that the best day‘s for DeKalb football aren’t that distant on the horizon.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Johansen said. “One day it will get better. It’s like deja vu seven or eight weeks in a row.”
Bulldogs 53, Barbs 14
Batavia 26 14 6 7 — 53
DeKalb 0 6 0 8 — 14
BAT Erich Zeddies 35 pass from Jordan Coffey (Zeddies kick good), 10:33
BAT Ryan Webb 7 pass from Jordan Coffey (Zeddies kick good), 10:14
BAT Bai Kabba 50 pass from Jordan Coffey (kick no good), 3:49
BAT Jordan Coffey 1 run (Zeddies kick good), 1:00
BAT Jordan Coffey 1 run (kick no good), 10:18
DeK Landon Hughes 10 pass form Frank Petras (kick no good), 3:44
BAT Erich Zeddies 20 pass from Jordan Coffey (Duhig 2 pt. run), 1:51
BAT Kyle Duhig 8 run (Zeddies kick good), 7:45
DeK Safety, 6:46
DeK Devin Hill 65 kick off run (kick no good), 6:35
BAT Kyle Duhig 54 run (kick no good), 5:44
First downs 13 14
Total Net Yards 338 398
Rushes-yards 9-63 43-227
Passing 275 171
Interceptions 1 2
Comp-Att-Int 19-21-1 9-27-2
Punts 1-31 4-35.6
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 2-10 8-50
RUSHING—DeKalb, Frank Petras 11-7, Damien Nelson 18-150. Batavia – Kyle Duhig 4-62, Jordan Coffey 3 (minus) 1, Evan Olexa 2-2.
PASSING—DeKalb, Petras 9-26-171-1-2, Wallin 0-1-0-0-0. Batavia, Coffey 19-21-275-4-1.
RECEIVING—DeKalb, Donnelly 2-52, Hughes 3-33, Wallin 2-22, Dupre 2-16. Batavia, Webb 8-110, Zeddies 5-80, Kabba 4-71, Briden 1-11, Lindquist 1-11.
Sophomore Game: Batavia 28, DeKalb 18.