By Mark Jurgena
Isaiah Norton made a play, as did Darren Pennell, Kolby Anderson, Devin Habermehl and Ethan Bagwell. And the list goes on.
The sum of those plays added up to a 14-12 win for Collinsville over Bradley-Bourbonnais in the opening round of the IHSA Class 7A playoffs on October 28 at Kahok Stadium.
Norton stops 2-pointer
Many of us saw Kahok middle linebacker Isaiah Norton pursue from his spot in the middle of the defense all the way to the sideline to stop BBHS QB Ethan Kohl’s progress and with the help of Devin Habermehl brought down the Boiler to give Collinsville their first-ever playoff win.
But there’s more to the play.
During the play, the coverage was spot on. Anderson and Pennell had their receivers covered but for a split second, the arrow route run by Tyran Bender was open. Yes, the same route run by Jerry Richardson on his spectacular, game-winning catch against Champaign (Centennial) two weeks ago.
However, linebacker Eric Stuber recognized the use of the tight end decoy and recovered to find Bender in the end zone near the front pylon. The effort caused Kohl to hold the ball allowing Norton to make the play.
“It just felt amazing,” said Stuber. “Once that tackle happened, I just looked and everything blew up.”
Anderson made a play
On 3rd and goal, Kohl was looking for his #1 receiver Neal May near the back pylon of the end zone; however Pennell had him covered. Kohl was forced from the pocket by Isaiah Gordon and nearly sacked by Michael Tongay. The QB dumped the ball low into the end zone where Anderson made a spectacular diving play to pick the ball off and prevent any score.
“Kolby Anderson…what a play,” Pennell said. “Big, big game changer right there. That play we relied a lot on film. I know they like a lot of out breaking routes to the pylon. I watched a lot of films this week and I relied on my technique right there.”
Kohl was under attack all night by the Kahok defense led by defensive coordinator Keith McGlasson.
Several times passes fell incomplete thanks to CHS defensive pressure. In addition to the two huge interceptions in the 4th quarter and forcing Kohl out of the pocket on the late two-point conversion and on the TD right before that, they were completely dominant in the first half.
“We have great players all around, our whole defense is amazing,” said Habermehl. “We have the best defensive coordinator in the 618. He’s amazing and we all work together so well.”
Bourbonnais had a 3rd and 7 at their own 33 to begin the 2nd quarter but a pass attempt from Kohl to Luke Allen was incomplete thanks to Christian Smith’s pressure and BBHS was forced to punt.
On the next possession, Smith, and Habermehl again applied the pressure on a 3rd and 4 in BBHS territory. They had a huge sack for a 13-yard loss and a punt.
The defense came up big on the next series as Habermehl’s pressure forced two incompletions and Stuber came up with a sack for a seven-yard loss.
“I was just doing what I do and the defense was just doing what we do, we just had to turn up,” said Habermehl. “We knew what we had to do. Our corners locked down all night, linebackers played amazing, and everyone had an amazing game.”
The QB draw
Well, more precisely the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s called it a lead draw and Emmitt Smith ran wild behind blocking back Darryl “Moose” Johnston and their offensive line
Collinsville has its own version of the play and in the past two weeks, it has been a game-changer. CHS has ripped off big yards when they needed them against Centralia and Bradley-Bourbonnais.
“We started calling that QB draw on 3rd down or 2nd down and longs and they never adjusted and that was our best play all night,” said Rhodes after Friday’s playoff win. “We probably had 70 (yards rushing) on the QB draw tonight. That was just our play. We called it in every situation. We even got it on 3rd and 21 tonight.”
Yes, they did. 3rd and 21 from their own 13-yard line to be exact.
With the momentum in the Bourbonnais corner and CHS clinging to a 14-6 lead, Collinsville needed something to get out of the shadow of their own end zone. At the least, they needed yards so they wouldn’t punt out of their own end zone.
Bagwell’s number was called and he followed Jerry Richardson up the middle. He picked up 23 yards for a 1st down and gave CHS a fresh set of downs and the opportunity to chew up more clock.