RIVER GROVE – Averaging more than 35 points a game, Fenwick’s offense rarely has been slowed down this fall.
On Friday night, even Mother Nature couldn’t stop the Friars.
Scoring on five of its final six possessions of the first half, Fenwick cruised to a 50-14 victory over Kaneland in a Class 5A first-round playoff game in rainy and windy conditions at Triton College.
The Friars (8-2) advance to take on Rockford Boylan.
“Just protecting the ball, that was the key,” said senior quarterback Kaden Cobb, a Ball State recruit. “We came out a little flat, we had a fumble, and I had that interception on the first drive. But once we protected the ball, it was over. And our defense really stepped up.”
Cobb had three rushing touchdowns in the second quarter, culminating with a 9-yard dash to the end zone with two seconds remaining. Finishing with 77 yards on nine attempts, he also passed for 126 yards and connected with Eian Pugh on a 17-yard score as the home team led 43-14 at halftime.
“It’s just about finding my playmakers,” Cobb said. “They made some plays tonight. They make my job much easier. And my O-line, they make my job so much easier as well, they keep me protected. Everyone is doing their job.”
In the absence of starting running back Danny Kent, Jacque Walls ran for 110 yards on 12 carries, including a 6-yard TD. Max Reese added a 20-yard rushing score in the third quarter.
Fenwick’s defense also got into the act, slowing down a potent Knights offense that was held to its lowest point output of the season. Kaneland came in averaging 37 points a game.
The Friars forced three Knights turnovers in the first half, with Conor Paris recovering a pair of fumbles.
“Our defensive backs really stepped up,” Paris said. “We prepared a lot for the pass and we were able to shut it down. We’ve had a lot of young guys step up. We still have a lot of work to do but so far everyone is doing their job.”
Martin Paris also had a 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
“Our guys played hard,” Fenwick coach Matt Battaglia said. “But we got some stuff to clean up. We’ve got to clean up the mistakes, the further you go in the playoffs, those will hurt us.”
Kaneland (5-5), which won its final two games to reach the playoffs, jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a 1-yard run by Anthony Urban.
Quarterback Troyer Carlson, who passed for 144 yards, later found Dom DeBlasio for a 12-yard touchdown.
Chris Ruchaj ran for 94 yards on 14 carries, and Sam Gagne caught five passes for 70 yards. Alex Panico had an interception, and Jackson Marler recovered a fumble.
“We came out firing,” Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said. “We got a turnover and scored right away. But then we turned the ball over a couple of times; that is something we always talk about, you can’t turn the all over. We gave them good field position, and they capitalized.
“We played exceptionally well at the end of the season. We struggled defensively early in the year but really turned that around. We will get better from here and get ready for next year, we have a lot of guys coming back.”