Football: Princeton at Kewanee
KEWANEE — The atmosphere was already promising another great rivalry game between the Princeton Tigers and Kewanee Boilermakers Friday night.
It was Homecoming for Kewanee (2-4, 1-2), hoping to rebound from a disappointing one- point loss to Sherrard the week before, being visited by the Tigers (3-3, 2-3) fresh off a 43-0 thumping of Erie-Prophetstown.
Thanks to three key interceptions by Payton Moore, four touchdown runs by Ronde Worrels and three by Dallas Hill, the Tigers dominated Kewanee from the start, powering to a 49-3 victory.
The Tiger offensive line again gave QB Beck Robbins lots of time to make decisions and gave the running backs plenty of room to run.
“I thought we played a stellar game tonight,” PHS coach Ryan Pearson said. “I’m proud of our kids. It was very, very important to come out and take care of Kewanee, with an opportunity to play for a conference championship next week against Monmouth, they know what’s at stake.”
The Boilermakers had first possession of the game, but not for long as Moore leaped high on the Kewanee 47-yard line to pick off the pass by Boilermaker QB Brandon Ainley. However, PHS was unable to capitalize on their good fortune.
The Tigers did take advantage the next time around, after a Kewanee punt gave them good field position on their own 41. On their first down, PHS sophomore Worrels charged 31 yards for the Tigers’ first score, with Jaimie Reinhardt’s PAT kick giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, Moore made another interception near midfield, making it to the Kewanee 5 and setting up another Worrels TD run at 7:35 in the first quarter. A missed PAT kick left PHS’ lead at 13-0.
“I was looking, and they kept throwing the ball my way,” Moore said. “And I was like, ‘All right, I’ll go up’!”
The Tigers decided next on an onside kick to the Boilermakers, a gamble which paid off as the PHS defense denied Ainley any progress on offense.
PHS made good on the field position from the resulting punt with a drive featuring huge runs by Conner Dickens and Dallas Hill, with Hill dashing in for a TD run get the Tigers on the board again. Hill also ran in the two-point conversion to get PHS up 21-0.
Kewanee went nowhere on their first turn at the ball in the second quarter, but the Tigers did with a 71-yard TD by Worrels to widen the PHS lead to 28-0.
Apparently Dallas Hill felt like visiting the end zone again, which he did at 7:49 on a 25-yard run to further put the hurt on the Boilermakers, 35-0.
“I felt great, the whole team played great,” Hill said. “The holes were wide open thanks to the line.”
Three minutes later, Hill scored for the third time in the game on a six-yard carry to increase the Tigers’ advantage to 42-0.
As time was running out in the half, Ainley led a drive to get his offense down to midfield, but his attempt at a big pass play was thwarted yet again by Moore, intercepting at the Tiger 10.
Worrels found another hole in the Kewanee line at 0:48 to power 70 yards down the field to make another TD for the Big Blue, upping the lead to 49-0 at halftime.
“That’s how it is every week,” Worrels said. “Without my (offensive) line, I wouldn’t running the ball like I do.”
Only once the Princeton reserves took the field was Kewanee able to make any progress, but still could only manage to get close enough to get on the scoreboard with a field goal to prevent a shutout, 49-3 as the third quarter ended.
Ainley gambled again for Kewanee on a big pass play at 7:20 in the fourth quarter, but Tyler Gibson stepped in for an interception to get the ball back for the Tigers and take the air out of the Boilermakers.
“It’s always nice to see our younger players get to play also,” Pearson said. “They practice extremely hard all week and to get them in the end of the game, that means the world to those guys.”
Note: Due to expectant heavy weather, the sophomore game started early with a running clock. PHS won handily, 20-6. ... PHS returns home this week to play Monmouth-Roseviille.