By Mark Jurgena
An amazing piece of the storied history of Collinsville athletics, the Kahok defense rose Friday up to deny a two-point play attempt by Bradley-Bourbonnais with only seconds remaining to secure a 14-12 win, their first-ever playoff win at Kahok Stadium.
The win puts the Kahoks into round two of the Class 7A playoffs at Chicago (Brother Rice) at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“It got a little dicey there at the end,” second-year Collinsville coach Colton Rhodes said. “But if there’s any kids I believe in, it’s these kids out here. They know I believe in them and they’re going to make the plays when they count.”
While Pennell and Anderson had huge fourth-quarter interceptions, CHS couldn’t prevent the Boilers from a late TD pass by QB Ethan Kohl to Tyran Bender and a possible game-tying two-point conversion with 18.2 seconds to play.
That’s when Isaiah Norton came up big from his middle linebacker position.
With Kohl scrambling to his right and Kahok Devin Habermehl in pursuit, Norton closed in on Kohl and hit him in the hip to stop his progress then Habermehl made sure Kohl was going nowhere. The tackle set off a celebration.
“I’ve been practicing all my life for moments like that,” said Norton. “To help this team secure the win meant everything to me.”
But another play had to be made. On the ensuing kickoff, kicker Jay Clifton opted for a sky kick to the wide side of the field…in the direction of Darren Pennell. The Kahok waved his right arm high in the air signaling for a fair catch. He secured the ball and went to the ground.
“Once I caught that ball it was just surreal,” said Pennell. “That’s how I knew it was game over and we finally got to celebrate.”
While this was another dramatic win for the Kahoks, it sure didn’t look like that would be the case as the Kahoks absolutely dominated the Boilers in the opening half.
CHS doubled the number of plays by BBHS in the half 44-24. They outgained the Boilers 266 yards to four.
Offensively the Kahoks went 80 yards on ten plays to start the game. They capped it off with a Jerry Richardson seven-yard TD run. The extra point was no good and CHS led 6-0.
On the Boilers first possession, the CHS defense came up huge with a sack on 3rd and 11 at the BBHS 44. Habermehl forced the QB to step up in the pocket and into the arms of Max Link and Michael Tongay to force a punt.
Collinsville then drove 75 yards on 13 plays capped off by a designed QB keep for Ethan Bagwell. He went into the end zone from three yards out and after running the same play for a two-point conversion, CHS owned a 14-0 lead with 34.2 seconds to play in the opening quarter.
Bagwell, as has been documented, was carted off the field two weeks ago only to return this week as the signal caller.
“I knew I was going to be back, I had to prove my doubters wrong,” Bagwell said.
Once he got medical clearance to play he had to be integrated back into the game plan.
“We were talking about how much we were going to run him tonight,” said Rhodes. “I said, ‘if he’s cleared, he’s cleared… we can’t handicap him. He’s going to know if we handicap him and he’s not going to want to play like that.’”
The first-half domination put Collinsville up 14 points, but the game would soon change.
On the 2nd half kickoff, May took the ball up the left hash and almost broke into the clear before Kahok Montray Crume saved a possible TD with a big hit.
From there the Kahok defense came up big on 3rd and 4th downs to regain possession however, neither team could break through until late in the 3rd quarter. Eventually, the Boilers hit a 29-yard TD pass from Kohl to May on a hitch-and-go route. The extra point sailed wide left and CHS maintained a 14-6 lead with 1:45 to play in the third.
In the final quarter, Collinsville’s first drive stalled out and BBHS took possession at their own 22. The Boilers marched 76 yards in ten plays down to the Collinsville four-yard line when Kolby Anderson made a spectacular diving interception in the end zone to thwart any score.
For his part, Pennell would come up with a huge play on the next Boiler series to end another scoring chance.
On 3rd and 9 from the BBHS 37 Kohl took a shot down the right sideline to his No. 1 target Neal May. The speedy wideout had a step on Pennell but the Kahok came down with the pick anyway.
“First of all, number five is a good player, I’ll give him that, a really good ballplayer,” said Pennell. “At halftime, we made the adjustment, it was me against him. He beat me on a couple of routes and I beat him on a couple of routes. That’s how I love to play football, I love competition and I love playing the top of the top.”
Collinsville will have another opportunity to play against some of the best this weekend when they face Brother Rice’s talented wide receiver corps.
CHS outgained the Boilers 325-281 in yardage including 154-19 on the ground.
Despite facing heavy pressure from the Kahok defense, Kohl threw for 262 yards.
Bagwell went 15-24 for 171 yards through the air. He also ran for 119 yards on 22 carries.
KJ Thorps-Watt led in receiving yards with 64 while Anderson and Pennell had five catches each.
Defensively, Pennell had six solos and two assists while Stuber had five tackles, six assists, a sack, and a tackle for loss.
Other sacks by CHS include Crume, Christian Smith, Tongay, Habermehl, and Link.