October 18th, 2014

CAL snaps Colts' winning streak 17-0


Ed Peak

Staff Writer

CAL snaps Colts' winning streak 17-0
DeSales quarterback Austin Johnson looks for daylight / photo and cover photo by Crystal Schiess

DeSales hadn't played a game in three weeks and looked sluggish, especially offensively. The Colts had trouble snapping out of their funk and Christian Academy gave them a 17-0 thumping Friday night before a standing room only crowd of more than 5,000 at Iroquois.

The loss snapped a 14-game winning streak held by DeSales, the top-ranked team in Class 2-A and the defending state champion.

No. 3 CAL (9-0) pulled ahead with a long opening drive and its defense did the rest as the Centurions won their third straight district title.

“They wanted it more, pushed harder,” said DeSales running back Matt Ruxer, who had 90 yards rushing on 13 carries and caught two passes for 32 yards. “I think three weeks not being able to play a game kind of put us in a bad situation.”

CAL took the opening kickoff and drove 84 yards in 17 plays, burning almost eight minutes off the clock. Tanner Young connected with Clay Davis for a 5-yard touchdown pass and Nathan Bader's extra-point kick made it 7-0.

During the drive, the Centurions converted three third-down plays and made one long fourth-down conversion. Facing fourth-and-eight at the Colts’ 31-yard line, Young hit Cal Lewellyn on the left side for 22 yards and a first down at the 9. Running back Nick Payne, a workhorse for CAL, went up the middle to the 5. On the next play, Young found Davis in the end zone with 4:08 to play in the first quarter.

"They converted those third-and-longs and that hurt us, set the tone," DeSales head coach Harold Davis said.

DeSales (7-1) finished the first half with a total of 74 yards and four first downs.

Davis refused to say the layoff hurt his squad.

"I don't want to use it as an excuse,” he said. “We should have done things a little different when we were off that long."

The Colts got the ball to start the second half but were forced to punt and CAL took over on its own 45.

It looked as though DeSales had held, but facing fourth-and-five at midfield, Bader faked a punt and took off around the right side. He picked up 17 yards to the Colts’ 33.
The drive ended with Bader’s 33-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 5:01 left in the third quarter.

CAL put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a 12-play, 74-yard drive capped by Young’s 8-yard scoring pass to Davis. Bader's kick made it a three-score game with 11:16 left. During the drive, Young connected with Davis for a 21-yard gain on third-and-five at the Colts’ 45. Jacob Paulson’s 20-yard third-down catch also helped keep the march alive.

"Usually our defense, we get after you," Davis said. "We did early, but they converted those third downs and got us on our heels a little bit."

CAL coach Stefan LeFors was happy with his team, which split with the Colts last season. The Centurions were shut out by the DeSales in the 2013 playoffs.

"We don't do a lot of crazy things defensively," LeFors said. "We just sit back and play sound defense. We were able to keep them back on their heels. From top to bottom we played a good, solid game. Our quarterback (Young) played a great game."

The Colts had a chance to get on the board when they drove from their own 13 to the CAL 15 late in the game, but Austin Johnson threw his second interception of the game on third-and-four. Cody Morton made a diving interception of a pass intended for Austin Hunt. It helped the Centurions earn their fourth shutout this season.

Johnson finished 7 of 20 for 69 yards.

"I told the rest of the team, ‘Look what happened last year (a loss to CAL in the regular season) and we won state,” Ruxer said. "We just need to keep our heads up and play the next game. We need to step up … and the seniors take leadership. We've got to start making big plays on offense and come ready to play instead of coming out flat. That hurt us."

LeFors said he expects another rematch with DeSales in the playoffs.
"They know how to go on the road and win," the CAL coach said. “I'd be shocked if we didn't play them in the third round."

The Colts have two regular-season games left, at Thomas Nelson and at Southern.

DeSales will have a home game in the first round of the playoffs, then probably would  have to travel.

"We still have a very good football team," Davis said. "Maybe we didn't play very well tonight. We have to get refocused. We just need to take care of ourselves and get things squared away. Get back to business."


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