MAPLE PARK – Kaneland turned three Andrew fumbles into touchdowns, including a 72-yard score from Dawson Trebolo that opened the game’s scoring, and the Knights cruised past the Thunderbolts, 52-8, on Friday.
“You got to take advantage of a turnover when you get it and turn it into points and limit your turnovers,” Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said. “And that’s something we’ve focused on the last three weeks, protecting the football, and I thought overall we did a pretty good job of that.”
Andrew (0-1) finally broke through the Kaneland defense when senior running back Mike Barberi blasted his way in for a 72-yard run with 2:48 left in the second quarter. The Thunderbolts converted a two-point conversion and only trailed 20-8.
Kaneland (1-0) didn’t lose any momentum, answering with a nice kickoff return from Alex Panico before quarterback Troyer Carlson connected with Dominick DeBlasio for a 37-yard touchdown pass down the middle with 39.7 seconds left.
Earlier in the quarter, the duo connected for a touchdown as Carlson directed DeBlasio with his nonthrowing hand before tossing a 15-yard strike to him down the sideline.
The Knights couldn’t have expected to get the ball back before the end of the half again – but they not only got it, but after the Thunderbolts were penalized for roughing Carlson, the Knights received one final play and trotted out Samuel Bruno who to boot a 33-yard field goal for a 31-8 lead.
“With the type of offense that they run, we said we wanted to try to score early and often,” Ryan said. “We did that which makes it tough to come back.”
Senior Christ Ruchaj, who had fumbled the ball away on Kaneland’s game-opening drive, redeemed himself as he joined in the fun early in the third quarter, scoring on a 57-yard run. The Knights received another gift from a Thunderbolts team that continued to hurt its chances by turning the ball over.
“I had everyone in my ear telling me to just bounce back and not think about it,” Ruchaj said. “I was just thinking about next play, next play. I have great teammates. I stopped thinking about it five minutes after and bounced right back.”
Junior Aric Johnson scored on a 16-yard run, punishing Andrew for its third fumble of the game with 9:07 left in the third quarter to extend Kaneland’s lead to 45-8. Senior Tyler Bradshaw, a Marmion transfer who also had a sack, scored on a 2-yard run late in the second quarter after the Knights began a drive at their own 40-yard line thanks to an Andrew fumble.
The Knights sparked the running clock on the opening play of the fourth quarter as Carlson tossed his third touchdown of the game, this time finding junior Josh Mauthe with a 4-yard lob.
“We knew our offense would score, so we wanted to focus on defense,” Trebolo said. “We’re just trying to get better so that our offense had more chances to score.”
On Friday, Trebolo took it in his own hands as he went to make a tackle and ended up with the ball and a long run for the Knights first points of the game. He briefly looked back at the Thunderbolts in pursuit, but he wasn’t going to allow them to get him.
“I went to make the tackle and then the ball was in my arm,” he said. “I didn’t hear the whistle or anything, so I guessed I needed to keep going. So I kept running and running, and then I looked back to see if anyone was going to catch me.”