Simieon Harris, Sandwich avoid shutout but fall to Rochelle

Hubs dominate in first half, Indians cant come back in second half

Sandwich running back Simeion Harris avoids a tackle from Rochelle defender Ryan Senne during Interstate 8/Kishwaukee River Conference action Friday night.

SANDWICH – Second-half touchdown runs from Simeion Harris and Nick Michalek allowed the Sandwich Indians to avoid a shutout during Friday’s Interstate 8/Kishwaukee River Conference Blue Division matchup against the Rochelle Hubs.

Michalek rushed for a team-high 83 yards on seven carries, while Harris followed with 41 yards as the Indians fell to the Hubs 40-13.

Rochelle (5-2, 4-0 I-8/KRC Blue) dominated the first half, in which the Hubs scored all five of their touchdowns and compiled nearly all of their 356 total yards in the game. Rochelle fed fullback Roman Villalobos on its opening drive, which went 51 yards on eight plays and culminated with a 3-yard touchdown run from the sophomore Villalobos, who had a team-high 86 rushing yards on 12 carries. Freshman wingback Dylan Manning ran in the 2-point conversion shortly after.

“That team was as good as we thought they would be,” Sandwich head coach Kris Cassie said. “[Rochelle] was as advertised, but from what I saw from our kids, I thought we really grew up tonight. We had only 19 healthy players tonight, but we didn’t roll over. Our guys were absolute warriors and they battled for four quarters. I’m proud of their effort and we’ll go back to work.”

The Rochelle defense controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the first half, forcing the Indians into a three-and-out on their first possession after back-to-back run stops for no gain. The Hubs continued to run the ball effectively on their second drive, with tailback Grant Gensler breaking off a 27-yard outside run that set the table for an 8-yard touchdown run from Manning, who knifed through the left side of the line of scrimmage to help Rochelle take a 16-0 lead.

Two solid runs from Michalek allowed Sandwich (5-2, 3-2 I-8/KRC Blue) to pick up a pair of first downs late in the first quarter. But the Indians were unable to move the ball much further, with Rochelle defensive end Ryan Senne earning two tackles for loss on Harris to stall the Sandwich drive near midfield. Another punt by the Indians led to points for the Hubs, who marched 74 yards on eight plays and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle from Gensler.

“Rochelle is on a different level,” Cassie said. “We looked at our schedule and circled the Richmond-Burton game and the Rochelle game. Those are the two elite teams on our schedule and they showed that tonight. Coach [Kyle] Kissack has built a tremendous program over there, but for us, we have to continue to do what we’ve been doing all year long and that’s trusting the process. We’ll have three or four players back next week and we need those guys back.”

The Hubs, who were 5-for-5 on two-point conversions in the game, added their third midway through the second quarter to take a 24-0 lead. Rochelle maintained momentum after the short touchdown run, successfully converting an onside kick that bounced off an Indian return man and landed in the hands of Riley Damask. The Hubs turned their special teams play into points, going 30 yards on three plays and scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run from Villalobos.

Sandwich’s best chance to score in the first half came late in the second quarter, when the Indians took advantage of a 15-yard penalty on the Hubs to move the ball deep into Rochelle territory. Faced with a fourth and 4 at the 24-yard line, Sandwich quarterback Brady Behringer fired a pass into the endzone, but cornerback Xavier Villalobos played the ball and nabbed a drive-ending interception for the Hubs that immediately ended Sandwich’s threat.

Rochelle effectively iced its win with one final scoring drive late in the first half. After quarterback Carson Lewis launched two deep passes including a 25-yarder to wide receiver Cayden Moore and a 40-yarder to wide receiver Elijah Harley, Rochelle scored on a 3-yard jet sweep by wide receiver Tommy Tourdot, who helped the Hubs command a 40-0 halftime lead over the Indians.

Jimmy Ramey led the Sandwich defense with 11 tackles on Friday, while Nate Hill followed with eight tackles and Cole Leeper added seven tackles. The Indians will face Marengo on the road next Saturday at 3 p.m., while Rochelle will host Plano at home next Friday at 7 p.m.

Plano 35, Harvard 0

Waleed Johnson ran for 170 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries for the Reapers (4-3, 2-2). Defensively, Armando Martinez had 10 tackles and Noah Uhrich eight for Plano.