MAPLE PARK — Finding consistent rhythm on both sides of the football will be critical for the Rochelle Hub varsity team after the purple and white suffered their third straight loss to open the 2020-21 season Saturday afternoon, when Rochelle battled the Kaneland Knights.
Despite a strong effort from Hub senior Ben Harvey, who ran for a team-high 117 yards and one touchdown, Rochelle had no answers for the Kaneland offense, which compiled five touchdowns, including three from Corey Phillips, in a 41-6 victory over the Hubs. While Rochelle totaled 290 yards and 12 first downs, the Hubs didn’t find the end zone until the beginning of the fourth quarter, when Harvey plunged forward for a 2-yard score at the 9:06 mark.
“I thought there were things we did well today, but we did them in an inconsistent manner,” head coach Kyle Kissack said. “It’s really hard to be successful when we can’t be consistent, so the message is that it’s not about our ability, it’s about our consistency. We have the ability to play well. Today was a great example of how effective we can be, but it takes 11 guys winning their individual matchups on every play. Until we find that, we’re going to struggle.”
Kaneland needed only one play to take the early lead over Rochelle, scoring on its first touch from scrimmage when Phillips broke loose for a 72-yard rushing touchdown. The Hubs went 0-for-4 on fourth-down conversion attempts in the first half, with the first failed attempt allowing the Knights to take the ball over and score on a 20-yard rush from Phillips.
Leading 13-0 early in the second quarter, Kaneland ran the ball on fourth-and-4 inside the Rochelle red zone, extending the drive before Evan Hogan rushed for a 10-yard touchdown. Kaneland nearly scored again in the final seconds of the second quarter, but the Hubs forced a fumble on the interior that senior corner Grant Thompson recovered at the 3-yard line.
Trailing 20-0 at halftime, Rochelle positioned itself well for a defensive stop in the third quarter, but a broken play on a bad snap resulted in Kaneland freshman quarterback Troyer Carlson finding Phillips out of the backfield for a 63-yard touchdown reception. The Hubs turned the ball over on their next possession, with Knight defender Erik Teran intercepting Rochelle quarterback Josh Lloyd and returning the ball 45 yards to the end zone.
Another failed fourth-down attempt from the Hubs spotted Kaneland in plus territory, enabling the Knights to extend their lead on a 1-yard surge up the middle from Hogan late in the third quarter. Phillips recorded 250 yards of total offense for Kaneland including 187 on the ground.
Lloyd ran for 85 yards, including a 46-yard scamper down the right sideline, on eight carries for the Hubs (0-3), who will host Sandwich at RTHS on Friday, April 9 at 6 p.m.