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With a full house at Kaneland's Peterson Field Friday, it was two pair that won the game for the Knights.
Kaneland improved to 8-0 and 4-0 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference by defeating Sycamore (5-3, 2-2) 30-7.
Juniors Tyler Carlson and Jesse Balluff scored a pair of touchdowns each to lead the Knights. Carlson got the start at quarterback for Drew David due to an undisclosed injury. Head coach Tom Fedderly couldn't have asked for a better performance from the junior.
"I was really impressed (with Carlson)," Balluff said. "He prepared so well. He's been watching film all week and he told me he was even practicing his snap count at home. It was great he stepped up like that."
"What a great kid," Fedderly said of Carlson. "He got the opportunity and made a lot of plays for us. We think a lot of him and feel he could be starting for a lot of other teams, but we're really lucky to have him."
The Spartans struck first on a 26-yard run by Austin Culton that capped an 11-play drive that took 6:00 minutes off the clock. The Knights answered less than three minutes later when Carlson snuck it in from the 1-yard line. Balluff's 40-yard end run on the drive's fourth play set up the score.
A muffed kickoff on Sycamore's ensuing possession forced the Spartans to have to start from their own 9-yard line. After two false start penalties moved them back to their own 4, Kaneland junior Gary Koehring darted up the middle to stuff Spartan running back Dion Hooker for a safety to put the Knights ahead 9-7.
Kaneland appeared to be ready to put the game away on their next possession. Starting on the 50-yard line after the punt from the previous safety, the Knights drove down to the Spartan 21, but Spartan defensive back Ben Niemann's diving interception at the 1 kept the Knights off the scoreboard.
Kaneland eventually got the ball back with just under five minutes to play in the half. Starting from the Spartans' 38-yard line, the Knights scored in five plays when Balluff scored from 10 yards out to give the Knights a 16-7 lead when the first half came to an end.
The Knights began the third quarter the same way they closed out the first half, but the drive nearly ended in disaster and allowed Sycamore back in the game. The Knights drove down to the Spartans' 23-yard line before facing fourth-and-20. Matt Rodriquez's 40-yard field goal fell short, but landed and came to a stop just inches before the goal line. Sycamore's Dylan Foster picked up the ball and darted down the right sideline as players from both teams appeared surprised. Foster was eventually caught at the Knights' 32-yard line, where Kaneland's defense forced the Spartans to turn the ball over on downs at the 24.
Fedderly indicated that because the ball landed so close to the goal-line, the players thought it was a dead ball and crossed the goal-line.
"The kids thought the ball had gone into the end zone, but it didn't and it was a live ball," Fedderly said. "We blew that one. We constantly talk to them about if something goes wrong on offense, we have to step up and we have to come back, so they take pride in that. Our defense has been improving every week."
Kaneland then drove the ball down to score on a 10-play drive capped by Balluff's 13-yard run to put the Knights up 23-7. Carlson added his second touchdown of the night with 6:35 left in the game on a 9-yard run.
Next up for the Knights is an undefeated Morris team that defeated Rochelle on Friday 28-21.