Southwestern holds off Staunton, Gillespie dominated by Litchfield
By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
One year after getting stomped 40-0 by North Mac at Virden, the Carlinville Cavaliers returned to enemy turf and eliminated their Route 4 rival Panthers from playoff contention while crashing a Homecoming party.
Nate Dyer forced a pair of fumbles and a safety, Ronald LaPlante recovered an onside kick and the Carlinville offense put forth a balanced 327-yard attack en route to a 45-20 victory Sept. 29.
Rex Reels connected with four different Cavaliers for a touchdown, including Noah Byots, Mason Gilpin, Triston Thompson and Zach Chapman. The senior captain finished with a 106.7 quarterback rating, completing 13 of 20 passes for 152 yards.
In addition to his dominant defense, Dyer contributed 89 of Carlinville’s 175 rushing yards on 19 carries while finding the end zone twice. The Carlinville junior also made a team-high seven tackles, including two that resulted in a sack.
Gilpin added 47 yards on 16 handoffs and Reels had 39 yards on 17 quarterback scrambles.
James Graves, who ran for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 13 carries for North Mac, battled his way into the end zone to help the Panthers pull even at 7-7 in the first quarter. Carlinville quickly responded, regaining a seven-point lead then doubling its advantage to 28-14 heading into halftime.
North Mac quarterback Dane Vance completed 10 of 19 passes while scoring the Panthers’ third touchdown on one of six keepers. The senior picked up 160 yards total – 100 through the air and 60 on the ground.
Carlinville, needing one more win in the next three weeks to become playoff eligible, will host South Central Conference frontrunner Greenville (6-0) at the Carlinville High School athletic field Fri., Oct. 6.
North Mac, 1-5 overall, travels to Piasa.
Southwestern holds off Staunton
In a crucial head-to-head meeting, Southwestern increased its playoff chances while pushing Staunton to the brink of elimination.
The Piasa Birds held off a second half rally and defeated the Bulldogs, 26-20, at Piasa, snapping a three-game losing streak.
After both teams were held scoreless in the opening quarter, the Southwestern offense came to life and posted 20 points prior to the half.
Staunton got a key defensive stop out of the locker room and quarterback Dalton Bianco went right to work. He completed a 67-yard touchdown pass to Braden Buffington to reduce a 20-7 gap back to a single possession.
Southwestern responded with a touchdown of its own on the ensuing drive, which was capped off by a 37-yard scoring rush courtesy of Logan Keith. The score was 26-14 following a failed two-point conversion.
In the game’s final stretch, the Bianco-Buffington tandem struck again for the resilient Bulldogs. A 61-yard heave from Bianco to Buffington landed Staunton a couple of mere strides away from the end zone. On the next play, Bianco punched it in from the Southwestern two-yard marker to bring the Dogs back within six before the final horn sounded.
Southwestern is 3-3 heading into Week 7 against North Mac.
At 2-4, Staunton must win out against Litchfield (3-3), North Mac (1-5) and Pana (4-2) to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Gillespie dominated by Litchfield
In other action, Gillespie suffered its 14th consecutive defeat dating back to last season. The Miners lost their Homecoming game against Litchfield, 53-19.
Tristen Wargo completed 13 of 25 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, but got intercepted twice and took four sacks over the course of another rough evening at ”The Duke.”
Jack Kaylor (14) and Cameron Hailstone (13) combined for 27 tackles.
Collin Griffith was Gillespie’s leading receiver with 139 yards on six catches, with his longest coming on a 66-yard Wargo Hail Mary to counter Litchfield’s opening touchdown in the first quarter.
From the moment an extra point attempt sailed wide of the uprights, the Miners started to unravel as they saw a slim 7-6 deficit gradually increase to 26-12 at the half and 40-19 through three quarters.
Gillespie, 0-6, begins a tough homestretch against three playoff contenders this Friday at Pana. The Miners will then return to Don “Duke” Dobrino Field for Senior Night and a battle with Vandalia (4-2) prior to closing the season at Carlinville (4-2).