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updated: 10/12/2013 12:53 AM

Kaneland's win sets up NI Big XII showdown

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If there's one thing you can count on Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly to say, it's that the Knights take things one game at a time.
If ever there was a chance to test that, it was Friday.
With rival Sycamore looming in a game that's going to decide the Northern Illinois Big XII champion next week, the Knights welcomed Yorkville to Maple Park.
Look past the Foxes? Not a chance.
Kaneland's dominant defensive front never let Yorkville's offense get on track, and the Knights offense came alive in the second half for a 41-0 victory on Senior Night.
The win ran Kaneland's (7-0, 3-0) regular season winning streak to 35 straight games. No. 36 promises to be one of the toughest if not the toughest in the streak when the Knights travel to Sycamore to face the 7-0 Spartans, a 42-33 winner over Rochelle Friday.
It's a matchup of the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams in Class 5A.
"One game at a time, he (Fedderly) preaches that to us every day. We all buy in 100 percent," said senior wide receiver Dylan Nauert.
Nauert scored a pair of touchdowns Friday and after the win did allow himself to look ahead to the Spartans.
"I can't explain to you how excited I am," Nauert said. "I'm getting jitters thinking about it right now. I couldn't be any more excited. It's going to be a fun week of practice, we'll work hard, and it's going to be a great game Friday. Great game."
Friday might not have been a great game, at least by Kaneland standards. The Knights struggled offensively in the first half and led just 13-0 at halftime.
They looked much more like themselves in the second half, scoring 21 points in the third quarter and then starting the running clock on Cole Carlson's second interception return for a touchdown this season with 9:34 left in the game.
It was fitting that Kaneland's defense put the final points on the board. In posting its second shutout of the season, the Knights forced four turnovers -- interceptions by Carlson, Grant Wooten and Isaac Swithers and Carlson's fumble recovery -- held Yorkville to 8 first downs, 3 completed passes and just 61 yards of total offense.
"We got penetration, we got up the field and we were all just so hungry to come out for Senior Night," defensive lineman Justin Diddell said. "The crowd was amazing, everybody showed up. We were all just ready to go, focused, and we all just wanted to hit this quarterback."
Of those 61 yards for Yorkville (4-3, 1-2), 34 came on its final drive. Up to that point the Foxes had gained 27 net yards on 43 plays from scrimmage -- or an average of .6 yards per play.
The Foxes couldn't keep Kaneland's defensive line out of their backfield.
"We couldn't get anything going. We're juniors all the way across the front. We don't match up. They are big," said Yorkville coach Karl Hoinkes who also had eight injured players in street clothes on his sideline.
"Defensively we played hard. First half was good. Offensively we were just really, really bad. We're just not getting it done."
Nauert gave Kaneland a 6-0 lead with a 42-yard touchdown run with 4:02 left in the first quarter, and Brandon Bishop took a slip screen from Drew David 34 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.
Other than that, the Knights also struggled offensively in the first half.
"We were hurting ourselves with a lot of penalties," Nauert said. "That was setting us back a little bit. We knew we weren't performing like we should. We wanted to come out in the second half and just prove what our abilities were. It started clicking for us. We started playing faster, stronger. we cut back on penalties."
Kaneland's defense kept the pressure on in the third quarter. On the first play of Yorkville's first four second-half drives, the Knights broke into the Yorkville backfield to tackle running back Henry Imburgia for a loss.
Imburgia carried 24 times for just 16 yards. He was stopped for no gain five times and tackled for a loss nine times.
Sophomore Jake Gomes had 2 sacks and a tackle for a loss in the first half, Carlson had a pair of tackles for loss and Dan Hammermeister another sack.
In the second half, Diddell had a pair of TFLs and sophomore Andrew Kray three more. Jaumaureo Phillips and Gary Koehring were causing problems for the Foxes all game.
"We've got the size, we've got the family," Diddell said. "That's the main thing. We are all one family. We don't go for individual. We play as a team and we play for No. 30 (injured senior Jesse Balluff) right there."
David tossed touchdown passes to Connor Fedderly and Bishop in the third quarter to break the game open. Nauert's 5-yard touchdown run put the Knights up 34-0 after three quarters.
David finished 9-of-17 passing for 160 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Bishop caught 5 passes for 83 yards while the Knights ran the ball just 16 times, Nauert the leader with 51 yards on just 4 carries.

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