Redbirds run over Maroons in revamped Tommy Stewart Field debut

Redbirds run over Maroons in revamped Tommy Stewart Field debut

CHAMPAIGN — With three minutes, five seconds to play in Friday night's season opener against Metamora, Champaign Central senior quarterback Luke McMahon dashed into the north end zone from six yards out.

Two game seconds later, junior Chase Vickers lunged to recover an onside kick for the Maroons.

Unfortunately for Central, everything that took place before those moments went in favor of the visiting Redbirds.

Senior quarterback Thomas Hall racked up a trio of touchdowns for Metamora as the Redbirds tallied on each of their first-half possessions en route to a 33-7 nonconference triumph over Central in the Maroons' first game on turf at Tommy Stewart Field.

Seniors Logan McClure and Austin Ioerger each recorded a rushing touchdown as well for Metamora (1-0), which saw all but one of its multi-play drives end with a trip to paydirt.

"Sports are momentum. If they score early, and they put together a good drive (the result might be different)," Redbirds coach Pat Ryan said. "They did a good job controlling the ball, and we did a good job keeping them out."

Indeed, the Maroons (0-1) limited the Redbirds to just seven total possessions, one of those a kneel-down on the game's final play. But Central also couldn't stop the Metamora ground game, which benefited from a stout offensive line and bruising efforts from Hall, McClure and Ioerger.

"They're big and strong, and traditionally they're big and strong," first-year Central coach Tim Turner said. "We're not as big and strong as other guys. Because of that, we have to be more detailed in the technical aspect of our game."

Hall opened the scoring with a 2-yard plunge less than three minutes in. That followed a failed onside kick bid from the Maroons, who return to action next Friday night against Unit 4 rival Centennial.

"We kind of got wind that's something they did in the past," Ryan said. "Luckily, the first one wasn't quite as good as the second one."

Central's opening effort ended deep in Metamora territory, after which the Redbirds converted touchdown runs of 8 and 6 yards by Hall, and 8 yards by McClure — all in the first 24 minutes. Ioerger added a 9-yard charge in the third period.

Turner kept things upbeat in his postgame huddle, though, saying "we'll just have to go 8-1" to end his chat.

"I told my guys I saw a lot of good things," Turner said, "so there's nothing for my guys to hold their heads down for."