Kaneland rallies to edge Morris


Kaneland rallies to edge Morris

By Rick Armstrong
Season Pass

Kaneland went big, literally, early in the second half Friday to help change the momentum. Then, the Knights held on for a wild ride to the finish in a 33-30 win over Morris.

Junior quarterback Drew Davids second touchdown pass of the game to Zack Martinelli, from five yards out with 27 seconds remaining, gave the Knights the win on the sixth and final lead change of the game.

The kids a trooper, hes a warrior out there playing with a hurt hand, Morris coach Alan Thorson said of the 6-foot, 175-pound David, who sat out the previous weeks game and played this one with his right wrist and hand heavily taped.

He took some shots from the hard-hitting Redskin defense, especially 6-5, 250-pound Danny Friend, but kept getting up.

We had to pressure him and the times we didnt pressure him, he hurt us, Thorson said. I dont know if it was bad coverage or he made some great throws, either way, give Kaneland credit for a great win.

David completed 13 of 21 passes for 207 yards and three TDs. Davids first score came on 59-yarder to Martinelli late in the first quarter of what started as a defensive struggle in the battle of Northern Illinois Big 12 East unbeatens. David also found Dylan Nauert in the fourth quarter for a 13-yard score.

The first half was all defense, Thorson said. I think the offenses were kind of feeling each other out.

The Redskins went to the break with a 10-7 lead after Zach Cinnamon answered the first Martinelli score with a 3-yard run to cap a 56-yard drive.

Kaneland was driving for another score in the final minute of the second period but linebacker Nik Countryman tipped a David pass and Josh Lincoln grabbed it and went 79 yards to setup Fernando Del Toro for a 34-yard field for the lead.

Kanelands Matt Rodriguez had field goals of 41 and 38 yards in the second half but the Knight offense got ontrack when coach Tom Fedderly went heavy with two linemen playing up backs in a wildcat formation and Jesse Balluff taking a direct snap that led to a 53-yard scoring run to open the third quarter.

We put our noseguard, Jaumaureo Phillips, who is 340, at tackle and had Justin Diddell, who is 280 at one back and Joe Komel was the little guy back there at 275, Fedderly said. We thought it could get us going and establish some rhythm.

Thorson said his team was surprised by the move.

We saw them run wildcat with Balluff last week and practiced for it, but they didnt have the big guys in the backfield, so that was a new wrinkle, he said. They got one TD off it before we stopped it.

Cinnamon, who had thrown only 51 passes coming into the game, finished 7 of 13 for 131 yards and one score, a 16-yarder to Anthonee Monson.

Redskin wideout Jake Hogan had two receptions for 62 yards and set up a Reese Sobol 20-yard scoring run by returning a Kaneland kickoff 63 yards to the Knight 32. He had a 90-yard kickoff return for a score called back by a block in the back penalty in the first half.

Cinnamons 49-yard scoring run down the sideline with 1:58 remaining gave Morris a short-lived 30-27.

Our defense really set the tone for us because the offense came out slow, David said. They helped us out and got us back on track.

It wasnt wrapped up, though, until the final play of the game. After Kanelands final score, Morris reached the 50 when Cinnamon hauled in a 19-yard pass from Friend after throwing a lateral to the tight end.

The Redskins quarterback was sacked by Ryan Lawrence and Sam Bower as time ran out, however.

Theres one of two direction we can go with this, Thorson said. We can let it affect us in a negative way, which I know is not going to happen, or we can get angry and take it out on everyone we play in thw playoffs.

Knowing this group and their character like I do, thats whats gonna happen.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.