Spotting their opponent two touchdowns for the third game in a row the Kaneland football team showed they can be called the "Fighting Knights", by charging back and scoring three forth quarter touchdowns to pull out a hard fought 26-12 victory over the Ridgewood Rebels.
However, the real story behind the story was the repeat of last weeks fumblitis.
The Knights continued to drop the ball 7 times, giving them 16 fumbles in 2 weeks. Fortunately, the Kaneland defense played good enough to guard Fort Knox and kept the Knights in the game until the offense was able find itself.
In the first half, Kaneland turned the ball over 6 times, 5 of them on fumbles. Two of the drops lead to Ridgewood touchdown drives of 17 and 21 yards. Both conversions where unsuccessful, the later saved by a Nick Gillis diving defection of a Rebel pass. By the middle of second quarter Kaneland was facing a 12-0 deficit.
Then on a 3rd and 11, Eric Delaney connected with P.J. Fleck for a 72 yard touchdown to get the Knights on the board. The Kick failed, but the Knights had cut the score to 12-6. That's the way the half ended.
When Coach Thorgesen was asked what he said to his players at half time, he replied, " I told Rich (Assistant Coach Rich Kearney) to talk to the boys, because I was afraid I might say something the parents wouldn't like".
Even though the team in Kelly Green got the ball 8 times in the first half, the Kaneland defense only allowed them 32 total yards - that's an average of only 4 yards each time they touched the ball.
The early moments of the second half didn't start all that different from the first. Ridgewood fumbled near mid field. The Knights then drove to the 14 where a errant Kaneland pass was picked off. And so it went until late in the third quarter.
Then if ever there was a critical moment to the Kaneland season, this was it. With just seconds left before the final quarter, Ridgewood QB Richard DeFelice hit Fred Arena for a 71 yard touchdown. A touchdown that very well could have put the game out of reach, and drop the Kaneland record to .500. But, the football Gods seem to say "OK Kaneland, you've had enough", as two yellow flags appeared on the field. The Rebels where caught for holding canceling the TD and keeping Kaneland in striking distance. On the next play they punted and Kaneland offense began to rev up.
Kaneland took over on their enemy's 38. Delaney quickly hit Fleck for 23 yards. Then on a critical 4th and goal from the 7, the pair connected again and Fleck was danc'n in the end zone. With 11:11 to play, Matt Gladd's kick was good, and for the first time in three weeks the Knights had the lead 13-12 .
You could feel the tide change as Ryan West fell on a Rebel fumble at Ridgewood's 38. Four plays later Kenny scampered into the end zone from the 19 for Kaneland's third TD. The Kaneland offense had returned. However, the extra point attempt was blocked. Kaneland 19 Ridgewood 12.
Then Kaneland's defense did their thing, as they stopped Ridgewood again, climaxed with the defensive play of the game, when on 4th and 9 at mid-field, Kyle Schrader and Ian Thomas nailed Rebel QB DeFelice for an 11 yard loss. A maintenance crew will be dispatched Monday to fix the hole.
Then Ryan West applied the Good Knight punch, with a blow up the middle for a 'see you later' 38 yard touchdown dash. With Gladd's kick good, all Kaneland had to do was run out the final 4 and a half minutes, and go home.
The Knights ended up with 335 total yards to Ridgewood's 175. Ryan West had 12 carries for 101 yards, Dan Kenny 14 attempts for 48, and P.J. Fleck grabbing 4 receptions for 149 yards.
Ridgewood ended the game with 5 personal penalties (one on the bench) for 75 yards, while Kaneland concluded with 7 turnovers, and 7 fumbles. If the fourth quarter was any indication - the Knights have turned the corner and the worst should be behind them. Add the Yorkville's lose to Evergreen Park and the conference championship is heating up.
As Coach Thorgesen said, "I hope we've gotten the monkey off our back now". And none too early with conference leader Evergreen Park and Homecoming looming around the bend.
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