By Mark Jurgena
For the Times-Tribune
The Collinsville football team battled injuries, inexperience and a state ranked opponent and fell Friday night at home to Taylorville 28-0.
The Kahoks were without the services of five starters, including leading rusher Jayden Nabors and for the second time this year started a freshman quarterback.
Taylorville has been ranked all season in Class 4A. This week they came in at #10.
“I thought defensively we did some really good things, especially early on, then you just can’t continue to put your defense in spots we’re putting them in. I thought we had some kids really leave everything on the field last night,” said coach Mike Popovich.
Perhaps the MVP of the game for Taylorville was punter Tex Jackson.
The Tornadoes entered the game having only punted three times on the season however Jackson had a 45 yard average.
Jackson flipped the field after the Collinsville defense forced a three and out early in the first quarter. His 53 yard punt pinned the Kahoks at their own 15.
Later, another three and out by the CHS defense forced another Jackson punt, however instead of booming it into the end zone, he dropped the punt on the Kahok 10 yard line.
Once again Kahoks had to turn it over to their defense, this time Taylorville took over at the 35 after a 10 yard punt return.
The defense forced the Tornadoes to run 11 plays and convert three times on third down before THS scored on a one yard QB sneak. The PAT was missed and it was 6-0 early in the 2nd quarter.
“I think the usual suspects Donte Williams, Gabe Miller, Jake Holten continue to do their job,” said Popovich. “Cam (Johnson) did a tremendous job, Chris James moved from corner to safety, he did a tremendous job. There were some bright spots on defense for sure.”
CHS picked up two first downs the next series thanks to running backs Miller and Kyler Williams but ended up punting.
After yet another three and out by the Kahok defense, CHS punt return man Stephen Green ripped off a 22 yard return to the THS 33 yard line.
Five plays later, Collinsville had a goal to goal situation with a chance to tie the score, but the Kahoks could not put the ball in the end zone.
THS took over the ball at their own 10 with 4:46 to play in the half. They would go 90 yards and score on another QB sneak with 21 seconds left. A CHS offsides penalty and three key passes in long yardage situations helped the Tornado cause. The two point conversion pass was complete to put THS up 14-0 at half.
“At times we looked downhill (running the ball) last night which was great! At the same time we are just not built to dig ourselves out of holes,” said Popovich.
To start the 2nd half, THS converted two 2nd and long passes for 1st downs. Then on 3rd and 2, Tornado running back Austin Heckert picked up the first down and was engulfed by Kahok defenders. Heckert kept his legs churning, and with the help of his offensive line pushing the pile, broke free and ended up with a 35 yard TD. The PAT made it 21-0.
In the 4th quarter, the Kahok defense forced another punt. Jackson killed the ball
at the 12 yard line with a high bounce off the punt to once again force CHS into a long field.