Turnovers do in Maroons
CHAMPAIGN — Instead of celebrating what would have been his program’s first two-game winning streak in four years, first-year Champaign Central coach Nate Albaugh will spend the weekend figuring out how he can keep his players from being in such a giving mood.
A week after Albaugh’s Maroons committed six turnovers in a win at rival Urbana, Central turned the ball over five times in Friday’s 8-7 loss to Decatur Eisenhower at Tommy Stewart Field.
“I’ve done everything that I know how to do as a coach and that I’ve done in the past and emphasized and re-emphasized and explored more and more options on how to get better at taking care of the football,” Albaugh said. “This weekend, I’ll be researching how to better take care of the football. All we can do is continue to work on it.”
The Panthers (1-2, 1-2 Big 12) looked as though they were on the verge of cutting the Central (1-2, 1-2) lead to 7-6 midway through the fourth quarter on a 20-yard pass from quarterback Dylan Smith to Sedrick Cunningham, but Cunningham fumbled just before crossing the goal line and the Maroons recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
But Central fumbled it back to Eisenhower on the next possession, and Smith scored from 2 yards out 11 plays later with 1:58 remaining in the game. He then hit Quashon Adams with a two-point conversion pass to put the Panthers on top.
Fittingly, Central’s drive to win the game ended with an interception, its third of the game.
“I think that’s deflating for anyone; as a fan, as a player, as a coach, that’s tough. That’s a tough way to lose. I don’t know if there’s any easy way to lose,” said Albaugh, whose team racked up 203 yards Friday. “We just have to find a way to move the ball offensively. We’ve been working very hard at the things we don’t feel like we’re very good at right now, and we’ll continue to do so.”
Central’s lone score came in the second quarter on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Jamal Stovall to Jalen Rose.
The lack of offensive production overshadowed the performance of the Maroons’ defense, which forced three turnovers.
Brandon Klein led the defense with seven tackles. Toby Rivera (17 carries, 71 yards) added four. Norrlyn Adams and Jaylen Guy each had interceptions.
“We’re playing pretty good defense; we have for the past couple weeks. That’s encouraging,” Albaugh said. “They only allowed one touchdown tonight, and they only allowed two touchdowns last week. I’m very pleased defensively. Of course, we’d love to win those games in the end, but, really, if we’re going to do that, we have to find a way to move the ball consistently.”
TEAM CONF. OVERALL
Normal West 3 0 3 0
Bloomington 2 1 2 1
Champaign Central 2 1 2 1
Normal Community 2 1 2 1
Decatur MacArthur 1 1 2 1
Danville 1 1 1 2
Centennial 1 2 1 2
Decatur Eisenhower 0 3 0 3
Urbana 0 3 0 3
NEXT FRIDAY’S GAMES
Central at Bloomington
Normal Community at Centennial
Normal West at Danville
Urbana at Springfield Lanphier
NEXT SATURDAY’S GAME
Decatur MacArthur at Decatur Eisenhower