RURAL STREATOR – The Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland football team made some adjustments defensively after Hiawatha scored on its first two drives of Friday night’s Illinois 8-Man Football Association North Division game.
Although the Falcons matched the Hawks’ two scores, FCW coach Todd Reed said it was going to more of a mix of defensive looks that was key in shutting down the visitors over the rest of game. Another key was the hosts posting 524 yards of total offense, including 466 yards on the ground on 58 carries.
The result was a 58-24 victory at the Wood Shed to improve FCW to 5-2 and push it even closer to a berth into the I8FA playoffs.
“We had to make some adjustments,” Reed said. “Hiawatha is a hard team to stop, and they had some things that they took advantage of on those first two drives in our pass coverage. We were able to fix a few of those things and did more switching from man-to-man to zone coverages.”
Hiawatha (3-4) finished with 255 yards from scrimmage but was held to 96 yards rushing on 20 carries.
“We just couldn’t get a stop,” Hiawatha coach Nick Doolittle said. “We were going against fresh legs every drive, and that’s tough. We got tired on defense, and after the first couple of drives couldn’t get anything going on offense.”
The Hawks scored on the game’s opening possession on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Chris Korb to Cole Brantley. The Falcons countered with a 13-play drive that was finished on a 5-yard TD run by Chris Stasko.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Falcons recovered a fumble and quickly scored on a 35-yard dash by J.D. Ruddy. Hiawatha tied the game at 16-16 on its second possession on a 4-yard score by Korb around the right end.
“Losing the ball on the kickoff hurt us and really gave FCW the momentum. We scored on our next drive, but we just couldn’t get them off the field after that,” said Doolittle. “I’m proud of my guys, and they fought to the end. Some kids that are second-string made some impact tonight. We are a young team, and we made some young mistakes tonight.”
From there the hosts scored three times in the second quarter – a 44-yard TD run by QB Dallas Hamilton, a 5-yard run from Jesse Simpson and a 6-yard pass from Hamilton to Stasko with four seconds before halftime to push the lead to 38-16.
FCW was forced to punt on the first series of the second half, but from there Simpson scored on a 10-yard run, Ruddy on a 60-yard sprint and Ethan Kane on a plunge from the 2. Meanwhile the Falcons defense recovered a fumble, forced a punt and forced a loss on downs.
Hiawatha finished off the game’s scoring when Thomas Butler ran it in from the 17.
Ruddy led FCW with 13 carries for 167 yards, followed by Simpson with 18 for 126, Stasko 11 for 59 and Hamilton seven for 64. Korb was 9-of-16 passing for 159 yards, with Brantley making five catches for 98.
“The thing about this team is they don’t get rattled,” Reed said when asked about Hiawatha’s early scoring spurt. “Even tonight, we got down early, but they know we are getting the ball back, and they expect to score. They keep their composure, and a lot of that is experience.
“Also a lot of time with our depth, we start wearing teams down in the second half. We are fortunate to have four solid running backs to give the ball to, and each of them has a little bit different style.”
Next week Hiawatha is scheduled to travel to Polo on Friday for a 7 p.m. start.
FCW hits the road south to Pawnee on Saturday for a 2 p.m. kickoff.