Unity wins title; Monticello, Tuscola, PBL roll
TUSCOLA – Cody Shelmadine rushed for three touchdowns and Gunnar Edwards scored two TDs for the Warriors.
Josh Scribner gained a team-high 69 yards on 10 carries for Tuscola, which limited Meridian to 77 total yards.
Edwards caught two passes for 36 yards and returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown.
MAHOMET – With its top two running backs (Alex Smith and Mick Graham) sidelined because of injury, the Bulldogs turned to seldom-used back Travis Hill and received a breakout performance from the junior.
Hill rushed for 211 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown to lift M-S.
Ryan Ohl caught four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown and intercepted a pass.
RANTOUL – After two consecutive disappointing efforts, Rantoul responded to coach Shane Carter's challenge with its most dominating performance of the season. The Eagles scored on the game's first play from scrimmage – a 57-yard run by Josh Monroe – and Rantoul sent its 14 seniors out in style.
"I challenged them all week not to let a team like that hang around too long," Carter said. "They started to get a little momentum in the second quarter and we made a couple of big plays and turned them away."
The Eagles built a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter before the Hornets made things interesting. After cutting the lead to 20-8, the visitors had the ball first and goal inside the Eagles 10 when senior defensive back Lamont Miller intercepted a pass in the end zone with just over a minute left in the half.
Two plays later, Monroe busted through the middle of the Eureka defensive line and raced 85 yards for a touchdown with 2.6 seconds remaining for a 26-8 halftime lead.
"That was huge," Carter said. "That put a dagger in the little run they were making."
In all, the Eagles forced six turnovers. Seniors Lestat Bonelli and Tyler Hines added interceptions, and Isaiah Butts, Karlos Dorsey and Deandre Green recovered fumbles. Dorsey returned his recovery 17 yards for a score midway through the third quarter to boost the lead to 32-8.
"This was a good way to say bye to the seniors," Carter said.
Rantoul amassed 355 total yards – all on the ground. Monroe finished off a career night with 149 yards rushing and three touchdowns on only four carries. Tyvon Davis added 58 and a touchdown on 12 attempts. Keegen Stewart and Isiah Smith contributed a touchdown each.
Carter was happy to see Monroe break through in his final home game.
"He's been running the ball hard all year and it finally paid off for him tonight," Carter said.
SHELBYVILLE – The Sages are back in the playoffs and their first-year coach couldn't be happier.
"It's really rewarding," Monticello coach Cully Welter said. "I think the kids took care of business when they needed to. It's nice to know we secured a spot."
Ben Palla was 14-of-25 passing for 258 yards and four touchdowns for the Sages, who sealed the win with three fourth-quarter touchdowns. Matt Palla had seven catches for 187 yards and three scores. Tyler Lieb had 183 yards rushing on 24 carries.
CLINTON – Unity clinched the Okaw Valley Black title with little resistance.
"When we started working out last January, we would break with 'OVC.' We made that our No. 1 goal," Unity coach Scott Hamilton said. "We won some great games and had a tough road. If you look back at the past winners of the league, they all went to the playoffs and represented the league well."
Sophomore Michael Lafenhagen, filling in for injured Matt Franks at tailback, led with 157 yards rushing on 21 carries.
"He's a really good back," Hamilton said. "We have a lot of skill kids. It's tough for me to balance their playing time."
Dylan Sturgeon had nine rushes for 107 yards. He also completed 10 of 17 for 178 yards.
Austin Perry had three catches for 48 yards. Seth Gooch added two catches for 63 yards.
PAXTON – Paxton-Buckley-Loda scored 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Connor Caple had 161 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Landon Tolley added 151 yards rushing and a touchdown.
"We're at three wins now and that's a huge improvement from the last few seasons," Caple said. "It means a lot. It gives us confidence to go and beat St. Joe for Senior Night next week."
Gauge Snider had two rushing touchdowns for the Panthers.
URBANA – Homecoming festivities weren't enough to propel the Tigers to their first win of the season on Friday.
"It was homecoming week and I think our kids got a little too wrapped up in the hoopla," Urbana coach Nathan Watson said. "We definitely got off to a slow start. A good team like MacArthur you cannot let them get off to a fast start. The kids played hard, they were just better.
Grant Parsons rushed for 39 yards to lead Urbana.
OAKWOOD – Kristopher Evans rushed for touchdowns of 1 and 62 yards and caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Justin Flinkman for Milford/Cissna Park.
"They just came out and took it to us. They outplayed us, they outhustled us, they just wanted it more," O/A-P coach Gary Denhart said.
The win moved the Bearcats into a three-way tie atop the Vermilion Valley standings with Salt Fork and Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac. Denhart's Comets play at Salt Fork in Week 9.
"We've had a lot of good things happen to us. It's gut-check time here and we'll see how we respond," Denhart said.
Salt Fork 26
DANVILLE – Lance Hubbard rushed for 150 yards on 12 carries and scored four touchdowns to vault the Storm into a three-way tie atop the Vermilion Valley standings.
Hubbard also caught four passes from quarterback Joe Pratt (7 for 14, 102 yards) for 42 yards.
Heath Goodwin gained 100 yards on 17 carries for Schlarman.
GEORGETOWN – On the brink of missing the playoffs – and trailing in the third quarter – Bismarck-Henning responded.
Sophomore Reed Collins rushed for 260 yards and six touchdowns as the Blue Devils kept their postseason hopes alive. Matt LeCleir added 115 yards.
"We feel like we have plenty of playoff points because our opponents have been winning," B-H coach Mark Dodd said. "Five wins should get us in without any problems."
B-H had 513 yards of offense.
"We came out with a good team effort," Dodd said. "As soon as we fell behind, we came out and dominated. Maybe this was the night our young kids who we have been playing so much grew up."
Alex Pratt had 81 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
Hoopeston Area 6
HOOPESTON – Brandon Pratt rushed for 145 yards on 19 carries as the Tigers made themselves playoff eligible with their fifth win of the season.
"I don't know if we'll have enough playoff points with just five wins so I think we need to get to six," Westville coach Guy Goodlove said. "Next week's game (against Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman) is very important."
Brendon Severado ran for two touchdowns and caught a 6-yard scoring pass from quarterback Matt Maser (8-for-15 passing, 148 yards, TD), who also ran for a touchdown for Westville.
"When we needed to make plays tonight we did," Goodlove said. "It was the first time since Week 2 we've had everybody back and we were a little rusty out there. We just had too many turnovers and too many penalties and we need to get those corrected before next week."
TOLEDO – Trey Rogers and Guy Kirby found the end zone for the Bunnies.
Leading rusher Guy Kirby was limited to 39 yards rushing but made 12 tackles on defense. Andrew Taylor registered a team-high 18 solo stops.
El Paso-Gridley 0
EL PASO – The Heart of Illinois title this season belongs to Lexington, but at 7-1, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley still has something to play for in next week's regular season finale against archrival Fisher.
"We just want to keep winning and hopefully get a home playoff game and a good seed," GCMS coach Mike Allen said.
Quarterback Stephan Birt completed 6 of 8 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Falcons.
"He threw the ball great and in some sloppy conditions," Allen said. "He hit Cody Gaesser on a touchdown and Cody's playing really well for us, too."
Michael Romshek scored three touchdowns on the ground and finished the night with 185 yards on 14 carries.
St. Thomas More 62
Iroquois West 6
CHAMPAIGN – Add another milestone to what is amounting to a special season for St. Thomas More. The Sabers moved to 8-0 on the season and picked up their first Sangamon Valley Conference title in Friday's thumping of Iroquois West.
"It's something that's really special," St. Thomas More coach Dan Hennessey said. "At the beginning of the season we always kind of set our sights on getting to the playoffs but I tried a different tone this year. I told the guys we wanted to go after the conference title first then worry about the playoffs after that."
Parker Stewart made sure the Sabers clinched the SVC title on Friday, accounting for five touchdowns. Stewart scored on runs of 39, 53, 9 and 47 and also returned one of six St. Thomas More interceptions 45 yards for a score.
Stewart ran for 192 yards on 16 carries and caught two passes for 38 yards.
"When we were sputtering a little bit at the beginning I told him we were gonna keep running the ball," Hennessey said. "He's a hard runner and I was just going to keep giving him the ball. He had an outstanding game."
Next week the Sabers will try to clinch their first undefeated regular season at Spring Valley Hall.
"We really want to make it 9-0 and possibly secure a top seed in the playoffs," Hennessey said. "Spring Valley is tough, I don't care what the record says. We'll look at the tape and see where to go from there."
ARGENTA – Jordan Macklin rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns as the host Bombers kept their playoff hopes alive. Macklin also passed for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Clint Mueller added 113 yards rushing and a touchdown.
South Piatt 26
ARCOLA – Needing a win to keep its playoff hopes alive, South Piatt came through with an important road win, thanks to 111 rushing yards and a touchdown from Steve Bryan.
"We have been in this situation the last three weeks and nothing changes (next week), we have to win again or be eliminated," South Piatt coach Dave Elder said.
Colin Auth had a pair of touchdowns, including an 82-yard kickoff return for a score.
OAKLAND – A quick start and a late defensive stand helped Arthur-Lovington position itself for a Little Okaw Valley title.
The Knights moved into a three-way tied for the LOVC lead as Justin Schuring rushed 82 yards and Bryce Yantis passed for 102 yards.
"We're very excited about our situation. It's a goal you set before the season, and we have a chance to achieve it," A-L coach Dale Schuring said. "We're rounding into shape and playing some of our better football at the end of the season. It's what you want."
Schuring and Yantis also had 10 tackles apiece, and Bobby Aikman added nine.
FLANAGAN – Kyle Eastham ran for 142 yards on 18 carries, including two touchdowns and Eric Steffan added two more touchdowns for the Panthers.