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Kaneland edges Morris, wins Northern Illinois Big 12 East title

Kaneland's Zack Martinelli runs away from defenders inend zone for an 89-yard receptiend first quarter against Morris Friday. | Brian

Kaneland's Zack Martinelli runs away from the defenders and into the end zone for an 89-yard reception to end the first quarter against Morris on Friday. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 20, 2012 4:07PM

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 David’s second touchdown pass of the game to Zack Martinelli, from 5 yards out with 27 seconds remaining, gave the Knights the win on the sixth and final lead change of the game.

“The kid’s a trooper, he’s 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 week’s game and played this one with his right wrist and hand heavily taped.

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

“We had to pressure him and the times we didn’t pressure him, he hurt us,” said Thorson. “I don’t 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. The others came on a 59-yarder to Martinelli to open the scoring late in the first quarter of what started as a defensive struggle in the battle of Northern Illinois Big 12 East unbeatens and a 13-yarder to Dylan Nauert in the fourth quarter.

The win, Kaneland’s 28th straight in the regular season, wrapped up its third straight NI Big 12 East title.

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

Kaneland was limited to 137 total yards in the first half and Morris 102 but the Redskins went to the break with a 10-7 lead. QB 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 linebacker Josh Lincoln grabbed it and went 79 yards to the Knights 16. The Redskins got time called with .6 of a second in the half and Fernando DelToro made a 34-yard field for the lead.

Kaneland’s Matt Rodriguez had field goals of 41 and 38 yards in the second half but the Knights offense got untracked when coach Tom Fedderly went heavy with two linemen playing up backs in a wildcat formation and RB 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,” said Fedderly. “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 (Jesse) Balluff last week and practiced for it, but they didn’t 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’s 49-yard scoring run down the sideline with 1:58 remaining gave Morris a short-lived 30-27 lead but Kaneland’s defense held the Redskins’ ground game to 87 yards on 27 carries and 232 total yards.

David and company finished with 410 total yards, with Balluff accounting for 140 on the ground.

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

It wasn’t wrapped up, though, until the final play of the game. After Kaneland’s 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 QB was sacked by Ryan Lawrence and Sam Bower as time ran out, however.

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