Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 10/14/2016 11:43 PM

Batavia gets past Larkin

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Batavia football coach Dennis Piron is not the type of person who cherishes a one-dimensional offensive approach.

However, when Larkin tailback Kindrel Morris (19 carries, 65 yards) capped a 7-play, 87-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run -- his third TD of the game -- to give the Royals (4-4, 2-3) a 28-21 lead midway through the third quarter Friday night, the Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1) decided to stick to the basics.

Relying almost exclusively on the ground game, the Bulldogs tallied 3 unanswered touchdowns over the final 16-plus minutes during their 42-28 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory at Bulldog Stadium.

After quarterback Ben Weerts' 8-yard touchdown run tied the game at 28-28 with 4:11 left in the third quarter, junior tailback Reggie Phillips (29 carries, 218 yards) gave the Bulldogs the lead for good with his 24-yard TD run in the final seconds of the period.

Jake Robinson's blocked punt set up the go-ahead score.

"It was a killer because it's a field position type of deal," said Larkin coach Dragan Teonic.

Driving for the tying score early in the fourth quarter, the Royals committed their lone turnover of the night -- a fumble that was recovered by Bulldogs senior defensive back Connor Oroni at Batavia's 24-yard line.

"We haven't had many (turnovers)," said Piron. "All year long, the ball has bounced back to our opponents. We just haven't gotten many breaks. We finally got one there."

Phillips capped a 13-play, 76-yard drive with his third touchdown of the night -- a 10-yard run -- to give the Bulldogs a 2-touchdown cushion at 42-28 with 4:45 remaining.

"That turnover was a deal breaker," admitted Teonic.

Batavia, which racked up 388 rushing yards, ran the ball on 24 of its 27 second-half offensive plays from scrimmage.

"Honestly, they kind of put us in a bind where we had to get very vanilla," said Piron. "It isn't something we wanted to do. Our receivers are working just as hard as anybody else along with our quarterbacks.

"When the game gets a little tight like that, if they can't really stop what we're doing, we're going to go to it and stick with it."

Phillips was happy to do his part.

"It's just what we had to do to win the game," said Phillips.

Larkin, which amassed 391 yards of offense, scored on its first two possessions to grab an early 14-0 lead.

Senior quarterback David Hibbler (12 for 14, 201 yards), who completed all 7 of his first-half pass attempts for 137 yards and 3 touchdowns, teamed up with Elijah Hernandez on a 96-yard TD toss and connected with Morris (4 receptions, 74 yards) for a 9-yard TD strike to stun the Bulldogs.

"I was happy with our effort," said Teonic, whose team faces rival Elgin next week with a possible state playoff berth on the line. "The kids are battling -- they're fighting. I thought we played clean football and frustrated them a bit."

"That's a program on the rise," Piron said of the Royals. "They get you moving in a lot of different directions."

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