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Corey Phillips fuels fast-starting Kaneland past Rochelle

Phillips scores on 72-yard TD on first play, Knights’ defense dominant in 41-6 win

MAPLE PARK – Corey Phillips was looking for Kaneland to get off to a fast start when the Knights took the field Saturday against Rochelle.

The start couldn’t have been faster, both literally and figuratively. Phillips took a handoff on the game’s first play from scrimmage for a 72-yard touchdown.

Kaneland never looked back as it cruised past Rochelle, 41-6, in Interstate 8 Conference play.

Phillips followed his long touchdown run with scoring runs of 23 and 20 yards. On the 20-yard score, he broke a few tackles to find the end zone and put Kaneland (2-1, 2-1) up 13-0 a little over four minutes into the game.

“We have always known that Corey is an explosive player,” Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said. “Something that we have talked about is making guys at that second level miss [tackles], and he did that today. He’s a real coachable kid, and I can’t talk enough about his explosiveness. It really showed today.”

With the game in hand, Phillips did not have his usual workload in the backfield. He finished with 188 yards on only eight carries.

While Phillips was explosive in the ground game, a play he made in the passing game may have turned the most heads.

A snap went over Troyer Carlson’s head on Kaneland’s first possession of the second half. Phillips turned around on his passing route to see his quarterback in trouble. Phillips retreated back to the ball and Carlson found him for a completion. Eluding several Rochelle defenders and aided by downfield blocking from lineman Sam Pryor, Phillips scampered into the end zone for a 61-yard score.

The score put Kaneland ahead 27-0 at the 9:05 mark of the third quarter.

“I just saw everyone running back and I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening,” Phillips said. “Troyer made a nice play and got me the ball. I give a lot of credit to the offensive line keeping that play alive for as long as we did. I think we had a tough loss in the first game [to Sycamore] and we have bounced back really nicely.”

Evan Hogan’s two touchdowns added to a second straight 40-plus-point performance for the Kaneland offense.

The Knights’ defense came up with several big plays against the triple option attack of Rochelle (0-3, 0-3).

Kaneland stopped the Hubs on fourth down on all of Rochelle’s first-half possessions except for the final one, which ended with the clock running out for halftime.

Kaneland senior linebacker Erik Teran was in on several tackles, but made his mark taking an interception 46 yards for a touchdown.

Teran and the Knights defense have allowed just over eight points a game this season.

“Coming into today, we knew we just had to be physical,” Teran said. “We know [Rochelle] always plays hard against us and we just needed to stick to our game plan and play our brand of ball. I think we did that today.”

“This defense is playing about as well as I can ask for,” Ryan said. “They’re not giving up very many points, or yards for that matter. I don’t know a word to use [to describe the defense] other than exceptional. They have already come leaps and bounds from Week 1, and I can’t say enough about how well that unit has looked so far.”

The Knights outrushed Rochelle’s ground attack, 289-288, while holding the Hubs to only four passing yards. For the game, Kaneland outgained Rochelle, 356-292.

Ben Harvey scored the only touchdown for Rochelle and had 116 yards on the ground.