BLOOMINGTON — On a cold and rainy night, the Central Catholic High School football team and Illinois Valley Central both had something to play for on Friday.
For the Saints, it was winning their first game of the season, and for the Grey Ghosts, playoff implications were on the line.
IVC would ultimately keep its playoff hopes alive with a 41-10 rout of the Saints on Senior Night at Bill Hundman Field.
“My first team at Notre Dame, we started 0-5 and just kept plugging,” Central coach Joe Walters said. “That’s how life works. You just keep chipping at the rock and when it breaks, you got it. So we’ll just keep chipping at the rock.”
The Grey Ghosts started off with a drive lasting nearly five minutes. Running back Ethan Kempf took a direct snap in wildcat formation up the middle for a 5-yard score to put IVC on top 7-0 with 7:18 left in the first quarter.
After Kempf picked off a Conner Boerm pass deep in IVC territory, the Ghosts would strike again. After some nice gains from Kempf, Nick Alahi took one in from 20 yards to extend the IVC lead to 13-0 with 2:05 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Saints would take little time to respond with a touchdown of their own. A couple of Boerm connections with Liam Brady set up a 2-yard run by Reece Seidl to make it 13-7 with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
IVC tacked on another touchdown late in the second quarter as Kempf pounded it up the middle from five yards out. Kempf added the two-point conversion to make it 21-7 with 1:28 left in the half.
Just before the half, another Boerm to Brady connection set up the Saints at the IVC 5-yard line. After back-to-back incompletions, Central elected to kick a field goal. Jonathon Naour hit from 21 yards to make it 21-10.
“If you look at our stats from this year, that’s about a 50-50 chance we get in the end zone,” Walters said of his decision to kick the field goal. “If we don’t get in, they get the momentum and that’s a problem.”
After a turnover on downs to open the second half for Central, Kempf found the end zone for the third time on a 43-yard scamper to extend the IVC lead to 28-10 with 9:07 left in the third quarter.
After a Boerm fumble was recovered by IVC, the Grey Ghosts took over at the Central 25-yard line. Just five plays later, Alex Fulton took a jet sweep across the goal line from 12 yards out to make it 35-10 with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
On a similar play, Fulton again found the end zone on a jet sweep around the left side, this time from two yards out as IVC held a 41-10 lead with 7:22 remaining. This came after the Saints failed to put any points on the board deep in IVC territory.
The Saints (0-8, 0-8) were led by Brady, who caught seven passes for 138 yards. Boerm went 10 for 25 for 173 yards. He had two interceptions and a fumble. Seidl finished with 18 rushes for 70 yards and a touchdown.
IVC (4-4, 4-4) was led by Kempf’s 19 rushes for 132 yards and three touchdowns.
“We were focused all week,” IVC coach Tim Heinz said. “It was a big win last week. It was a big win this week, and we have to win another big game next week to have a shot.”