BRAIDWOOD – Reed-Custer had posted ridiculous numbers over the first five weeks of the season.
But until the Comets could put their skills to the test against the kings of the conference, Wilmington, the legitimacy of those accomplishments were being questioned.
Consider those questions answered in resounding fashion, as Reed-Custer dominated from the start and collected a 50-5 victory over Wilmington, whose state-longest active winning streak was snapped at 24 games.
“We definitely had it in our minds that we wanted to put a beatdown on Wilmington,” Reed-Custer running back Jace Christian said. “But we did what we needed to do, more for everyone to know that we are the real deal hopefully this year, and to show people that we’re not just the old Reed-Custer that we have been.”
Reed-Custer (6-0, 4-0 Illinois Central Eight) got on the board quickly with a 62-yard touchdown reception from Lucas Foote off a short toss from Jace McPherson. Foote simply curled away from the defense and sprinted in for the score.
The play set up a substantial celebration that actually drew several penalty flags and forced Reed-Custer to kick off from its own 10-yard line. That allowed for a big Wilmington return, but once the offensive unit got on the field, the Wildcats (5-1, 4-1) quickly learned nothing was going to come easily.
The kick return still allowed Wilmington to get on the board with a 38-yard field goal from Reid Juster, but Reed-Custer marched right down the field again, getting a 1-yard plow from Christian to stretch its lead to 16-3.
Wilmington got another solid kick return, but it proved to be the only effective source of moving the football for the Wildcats, who quickly punted the ball back to the Comets, pinning them at their 1-yard line.
In one of the few errors Reed-Custer would make, Christian bobbled the snap in the end zone, and the ball popped through the back of the end zone for a Wilmington safety to allow them to close within 16-5.
But Reed-Custer’s offense kept charging, getting a 15-yard touchdown pass from McPherson to Christian early in the second quarter and a 2-yard plunge from McPherson to give Reed-Custer a 30-5 lead.
Meanwhile Wilmington’s offense was doing next to nothing. The Wildcats didn’t achieve a first down in the first half and netted just 36 yards of total offense on 22 carries. A pair of 5-yard runs were Wilmington’s largest offensive gains of the first half.
“Our defense has been awesome all year,” Reed-Custer coach Gavin Johnston said. “I don’t know what the stats were tonight, but coming into the game we were at something like negative-60 yards allowed all season. I’m really, really proud of how our defense has been playing.”
Reed-Custer ended up surrendering 100 yards of total offense to Wilmington in the game, but the large majority of those came well after the outcome was clearly decided.
Foote ran for a 4-yard score in the third quarter, and Josh Bohac added a 22-yard touchdown run as well. Then the unthinkable happened with Josh Cieslak’s 21-yard touchdown run with seven minutes to play. Reed-Custer had put the running clock on Wilmington.
It was the most lopsided loss for Wilmington since a 54-9 loss at the hands of Kaneland in 1998.
“We ran into a buzzsaw tonight with a very good Reed-Custer team,” Wilmington coach Jeff Reents said. “And then we started second guessing ourselves a little bit defensively, and we got mixed up, and they took full advantage of that.”
“We couldn’t run the ball either. Bottom line, they did a really good job with us up front. Lot of credit goes to them.
“Now playing them, they are even better than I thought they were from looking at them on film.”