Phillips, Kaneland run past Rochelle
Corey Phillips was looking to get Kaneland off to a fast start as his Knights took the field against Rochelle Saturday afternoon.
The start couldn't have been faster, both literally and figuratively, for Phillips as he took a handoff on the game's first play from scrimmage for a 72-yard touchdown.
Kaneland never looked back as it cruised past Rochelle, 41-6, in Interstate Eight Conference play.
Phillips followed up his long touchdown run with scoring runs of 23 and 20 yards, the second of he which broke a few more tackles to find the end zone and put Kaneland (2-1, 2-1) up 13-0 just over four minutes into Saturday's contest.
"We have always known that Corey is an explosive player," Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said. "Something that we have talked about is making guys at that second level miss [tackles], and he did that today. He's a real coachable kid and I can't talk enough about his explosiveness and it really showed today."
With the game in hand, Phillips may not have had his usual workload in the backfield, finishing with 188 yards on just eight carries.
While his game on the ground was explosive enough for his coach, it might have been a play made in the receiving game that turned the most heads Saturday.
After a snap over Troyer Carlson's head on Kaneland's first possession of the second half, Phillips turned around on his route to see his quarterback in trouble. He retreated back to the ball and Carlson found him. Eluding several Rochelle defenders, and aided by downfield blocking from lineman Sam Pryor, Phillips scampered into the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown.
The score put Kaneland ahead 27-0 at the 9:05 mark of the third quarter.
"I just saw everyone running back and I wasn't exactly sure what was happening," Phillips said. "Troyer made a nice play and got me the ball. I give a lot of credit to the offensive line keeping that play alive for as long as we did ... I think we had a tough loss in the first game [of the season, to Sycamore] and we have bounced back really nicely."
Evan Hogan's two touchdowns added to a second straight 40-plus-point performance for the Kaneland offense. However, the Knights' defense came up with several big plays against the triple option attack of Rochelle (0-3, 0-3).
Kaneland stopped the Hubs on fourth down on all of Rochelle's first half possessions, aside from the final one which ended with halftime.
Senior linebacker Erik Teran was in on several tackles, but made his mark taking an interception back 46 yards for a touchdown of his own.
Teran and the Knights defense have allowed just over eight points per game this season.
"Coming into today, we knew we just had to be physical," Teran said. "We know [Rochelle] always plays hard against us and we just needed to stick to our game plan and play our brand of ball. I think we did that today."
"This defense is playing about as well as I can ask for," Ryan added. "They're not giving up very many points, or yards for that matter. I don't know a word to use [to describe the defense] other than exceptional. They have already come leaps and bounds from Week 1 and I can't say enough about how well that unit has looked so far."
The Knights outrushed Rochelle's primary ground attack by one, 289-288, while holding the Hubs to just four passing yards. Overall for the game, Kaneland outgained Rochelle, 356-292.
Ben Harvey scored the only touchdown for Rochelle, adding 116 yards on the ground in the loss.