Illinois High School Football News

Amboy-LaMoille slows down Hiawatha for victory

AMBOY – When the Hiawatha Hawks started to find some success in the air Friday, the Amboy Clippers knew it was paramount to take the proverbial air out of the ball when they were on offense.

The Clippers did that, chewing up clock behind an aggressive offensive line and scoring an insurance touchdown early in the fourth quarter to secure a 26-12 win at The Harbor in an eight-man game.

“Our offensive line came out and did a really good job of blocking,” Amboy coach Scott Payne said. “It came down to ball control, and I think we took quite a bit off the clock, and then made some big plays.

“It was very important for us to get some long drives. Getting 4 to 5 yards a carry, I’ll take that every single time.”

With 4 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third quarter, Hiawatha (4-2) hit on its second long pass play of the half – a 67-yard bomb from Christopher Korb to Lucas Norvell that pulled the Hawks within eight points at 20-12.

Hiawatha's Cole Brantley looks to avoid Amboy's Brennan Blaine during Friday. Sept 30 action in Amboy.

The two also connected on the first drive of the second half, this time on a 47-yard touchdown.

“We’ve been trying to get that out of Lucas Norvell all year,” Hiawatha coach Nick Doolittle said. “He’s starting to put things together, and he’s unblockable. So I am glad he had those couple plays, and that Chris Korb had some clean pockets to throw.”

Amboy responded with a 13-play drive that chewed just over five minutes off the clock. It started with a steady diet of 4- and 5-yard runs by Clipper backs Landon Whelchel and Quinn Leffelman.

Then, quarterback Brennan Blaine broke free for a 32-yard run to the Hiawatha 15-yard line. The Clippers converted a fourth-and-inches on a Leffelman dive at the 5-yard line before Whelchel broke free for a 5-yard touchdown run to put Amboy (5-1) up 26-12 with 11:07 left.

Blaine split time with sophomore Eddie Jones at quarterback. Both are filling in for an injured Tucker Lindenmeyer.

“We put Blaine in the backfield to get him some carries,” Payne said. “He’s just the type of kid you want to get the ball in his hands. It’s something we are going to keep doing throughout the year, and hope it keeps looking a lot better.”

Amboy's Brennan Blaine catches a pass as Hiawatha's Cole Brantley defends on the Clippers' opening drive for a touchdown on Friday. Sept 30.

The spot on the fourth-down play drew the ire of Doolittle, and he was penalized for arguing the call. He also didn’t like a face mask call that negated a 60-yard touchdown run by Cole Brantley in the first half.

“A couple of bad calls didn’t go our way,” Doolittle said. “We had a big run called back on something that didn’t even affect the play. It was a terrible call. We stopped them on fourth down, another terrible call.

“I love how my boys played tonight. I thought we did awesome, and we did make plays. I can’t be anymore proud. We’re very close to being a very good football team.”

Amboy led 12-0 at halftime behind touchdown runs by Leffelman and Brennan. The Clipper defense had tackles for loss on third or fourth down on three of the Hawks’ four first-half drives. The fourth drive ended with an interception by Jones.

“Our defense played really well tonight,” Payne said. “Besides those two deep balls, we did pretty much what we wanted to do, and did a good job of stopping them. The defense played physical, and to hold an offense like that to 12 points is a good job.”

Whelchel led Amboy with 153 rushing yards on 24 carries. Leffelman had 63 yards and two touchdowns, and Blaine had 67 rushing yards. Amboy had a total of 298 rushing yards.

Hiawatha's Thomas Butler (5) and Ryan Barber (54) wrap up an Amboy running back during Friday. Sept 30 action in Amboy.