Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 9/3/2016 8:46 PM

Chicago Hope blasts past Westminster Christian

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By Jared Birchfield
Daily Herald Correspondent

The Chicago Hope football team was in tune before the start of Saturday's contest against Westminster Christian in Elgin.

Due to the failure of the public address system, the players and spectators sang the national anthem together. The Chicago team was in perfect pitch in their rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

The squad was also in sync on the field as it used both offense and defense to overwhelm the Warriors 53-20 in the Northeastern Athletic Conference game.

Hope's offense scored 7 touchdowns while gaining 400 yards. The defense forced a fumble and intercepted two passes, returning one for a score.

Hope coach Matt Kelly felt his team coming together as unit contributed to the win.

"I just think it's our progression. Each week we've gotten a little better. We are a really young team. We start a freshman at a quarterback, a freshman at tailback and freshmen at receivers, safeties and on the line," Kelly said. "I think we are really coming together as a team and I think this is one of the biggest things, we're really believing in one another."

"We came out and we stuck to our game plan and that was to score early," said Westminster coach John Davis. "We had a couple turnovers at the wrong time and we had some things that didn't go right today."

Westminster (1-1, 1-1) put the first points on the board when Spencer Feerer scored on a 2-yard run with 5:35 left in the first quarter.

Hope (2-0, 2-0) responded with a 63-yard drive that end when quarterback Trevor Land connected with Najee Harris for a 37-yard TD pass. After intercepting a Tannor Park pass, Hope marched 50 yards down field to score its second TD on a Land 15-yard keeper to take a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Hope added 2 unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 27-7 halftime lead. Harris scored both, one on 58-yard pass from Land and the second on a 30-yard run.

"I was excited to see our slot receiver, Najee Harris, step up today," Kelly said. "He played a really good game."

Hope broke the game wide open in the third quarter and started the running clock by scoring 3 more touchdowns. Sandwiched between TD runs by Harris and Land, was an interception by Justin Adams of another Warrior pass. The freshman cornerback returned it 69 yards for the touchdown. Hope led 47-13 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Scotty Graziano was a bright spot for Westminster's offense. The senior wide receiver scored 2 touchdowns, the first on an 85-yard pass from Park in the third quarter, the second on a 54-yard run in the fourth quarter. .

"He was fantastic. They locked him down, they put their best player on him and they double-teamed him," Davis said. "We were fortunate to get the ball into his hands a couple times."

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