DEKALB, Ill. — Heading into Friday’s Illinois high school Class 2A state championship football game, Sterling Newman running back Jake Snow had studied up on Staunton and concluded the Bulldogs “looked good, looked quick.”
Snow ultimately found Staunton gave the Comets little resistance.
Snow ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns, leading Newman to a 40-13 win over Staunton for the Comets’ fifth state title in their program’s history. The Comets were the Three Rivers Conference North Division champion, finishing one game ahead of Erie/Prophetstown.
Dillan Heffelfinger added 155 yards on 19 carries and also scored twice for the Comets (13-1), who averaged 7.7 yards a carry in amassing 425 yards on the ground.
The Comets, who never punted during the game, scored five of their six touchdowns in the first half against Staunton, and none of those drives took longer than about 2 1/2 minutes.
Staunton (9-5) took a first-quarter lead of 7-6 on Marcus Sitko’s 1-yard run that capped a 14-play, 71-yard drive that consumed more than eight minutes. But the Comets quickly countered on Snow’s 15-yard touchdown and never trailed again.
Hare keys3A victory
DEKALB, Ill. — With an Illinois state title on the line, Stillman Valley’s Zac Hare certainly didn’t let a bothersome right ankle and cramps in his left leg slow him down.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior fullback ran for 254 yards and four touchdowns, the last coming in overtime — topped off by his two-point conversion — in helping lift Stillman Valley to a 43-41 overtime win over St. Joseph-Ogden in the Class 3A championship game.
After Hare put the Cardinals (12-2), who defeated Erie/Prophetstown in the second round, ahead 43-35, the Spartans (11-3) responded with Connor Janes’ 5-yard touchdown run. But the Spartans’ bid to extend the game ended when Stillman Valley’s Logan Alberts and Eddie Torrance sacked quarterback Dalton Walsh on the two-point conversion attempt.
Walsh threw for 259 yards on 24-of-35 passing and had three touchdowns, including the go-ahead, 22-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Hart with less than six minutes left in regulation.
But Hare later powered into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 1:19 left, tying the score at 35 and forcing overtime.
Le-Winwins in 1A
DEKALB, Ill. — Tyler Oakley called it the best he’s ever played defensively, and Lena-Winslow has a new state championship trophy largely because of it.
The senior scored three touchdowns — two on long fumble returns — and thwarted Downs Tri-Valley’s last-ditch drive with an interception with 23 seconds to play, lifting the Panthers to a 28-21 victory over its previously unbeaten foe in the Class 1A state championship.
“I could never imagine in my wildest dreams — one but two (defensive touchdowns), and then I get that interception to seal it. By far, my best defensive game in my whole life,” said Oakley, who also gained 83 yards on 25 carries for Lena-Winslow (11-3).
Oakley’s two fumble returns — one covering 60 yards, the other 65 — for touchdowns staked the Panthers to a 14-7 first-quarter lead, though the Panthers ended up trailing Tri-Valley (13-1) 21-14 at halftime.
Lena-Winslow rallied, closing to 21-20 on quarterback Ben Moest’s 1-yard sneak on the Panthers’ first third-quarter possession. After Lena-Winslow recovered a Tri-Valley fumble on the ensuing possession, the Panthers took the lead for good on a 2-yard Oakley touchdown run followed by a two-point conversion.
DEKALB, Ill. — Running back Drake Berberet rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns as Rochester held off Geneseo for a 16-8 win in Friday’s Class 4A state championship game.
Rochester (13-1) became the first Illinois public school to win four consecutive state titles.
Geneseo (12-2) pulled within a score on Rayce Singbush’s 2-yard run with 5:44 left in the game. But the Rockets managed to run out the clock.