Those living along Hiltop Drive in Hillsboro might have feared an earthquake late Friday afternoon, April 2, but the shaking ground came not from pre-quake tremors but from the arrival of the Carlinville Cavalier football team’s defensive front seven. That unit, plus a workhorse running back and a nimble quarterback who could throw, were responsible for a 23-14 defeat of the Toppers.
Defensively the Cavies start nine seniors and two juniors, and the young men are both experienced and large. The Toppers have decent size (two are listed at 200 lbs., four are in the 205-220 range, and two are listed at 240); but Carlinville’s four-man defensive line averages 260 pounds, and they are mobile. The linebackers average 172, and many reserves top 200 pounds.
Still, the Toppers battled. Carlinville jumped ahead 21-0 by stifling the Topper offense (held to 4 yards rushing on 34 carries in the first half) until quarterback Zane Duff and receiver Jace Tuetken combined for a 72 yard catch and run touchdown with 2:37 left in the opening half. Until then the visitors held a 21-0 lead as their quarterback, Ayden Tiburzi, mixed passes to three receivers and runs by Bobby Seals, another senior.
The first score came on the Cavies’ first possession. A short punt gave them good field position on the Topper 31. Two Tiburzi passes moved them to the 20, Seals gained four; after a blocking in the back call negated a completion to the 15, Seals set sail around his right end for the 29 yard score. (Only Seals gained rushing yards for his team, as he notched 151 yards on 26 carries. Tiburzi carried four times for a total of eight yards.)
Seals scored again early in the second quarter. The Toppers put two first downs together before Quarter One wound down, as Duff kept on a read option for a seven yard gain to the Topper 40, but then their line dropped him for a five yard loss. When Duff lateraled to Tuetken in his left flat on second down, two defenders were waiting for him.
A pass to Jude Bertolino as the second quarter began still left the Toppers 14 yards short of a first down; the Cavies downed the punt on their 35.
Seals gained only two up the middle, where Magnus Wells and Ian Malloy defended well consistently, so he swept his right end again to go untouched to paydirt. Lonny Rosentreter made the extra point, his second of the game -- it was 14-0.
The pit the Toppers were in grew deeper. After a Duff to Drew Willman completion netted a first down, Duff was separated from the ball as he tried to elude rushers; Chase Michaelis recovered, ad Carlinville had the ball on Hillsboro’s 30 with 7:50 left in the half.
Seals carried three times for 14 yards; when Willman stuffed Seals on his consecutive fourth carry, Tiburzi passed on second down, finding Ethen Siglock in the end zone. Rosentreter’s leg was true again.
Down 21-0, the Toppers found a spark after a muffed punt was recovered by Tuetken on the Topper 28. Afteran incomplete pass to Bertolino, Duff threw a sideline pattern to Tuetken, who grabbed it and bounced off contact to make his way for his fourth receiving touchdown in the first three games. Chance Murray added the extra point.
Carlinville gave Seals a chance to rest in the third quarter as Tiburzi came out throwing, completing six in a row to move his team to the Topper 22. After an incompletion, he earned a first down with a completion to Joe Lewis on the 9; then Siglock fumbled the next reception, with Hillsboro recovering to stop the drive on their 4. Carlinville would score again, but not a touchdown, and not until the end of the game.
Linebacker Jackson Hamby stopped the next enemy drive with a pass interception; the rest of the third quarter consisted of exchanging punts.
The fourth quarter featured power runs by Topper sophomore Blaze Helton. Held to 15 yards on four carries in the first three quarters, Helton had six carries for 32 yards in the last one, including a bruising eight yard touchdown gallop with 2:56 to play. Murray’s extra point made it a one-possession game, and the defense earned that possession.
Three Cavie plays netted six yards but cost Hillsboro three time-outs. Cavie Coach Chad Easterday elected to punt on fourth and four from the Topper 43 after trying unsuccessfully to coax an offside move by the Hillsboro defense.
Rosentreter executed the punt perfectly as it bounced out of bounds on the Topper 9. A fumbled snap on first down made the probably impossible unimaginable as Duff covered the ball at his 2. An incomplete pass didn’t help the Topper cause, nor did defensive tackle Zach Reed, who tackled Duff in the end zone for the final points of the game, a safety.
Now 0-3, the Toppers travel south to Clinton County this Saturday, April 10; it’ll be their first chance to play a regular season game on a turf field. Kickoff against Breese Mater Dei is at 1 p.m.
April 2 at Hillsboro
Hillsboro (0-3) 0 7 0 7 14
Carlinville (2-1) 7 14 0 2 23
1st - 7:09 - Carlinville - Bobby Seals 24-yard run (Lonny Rosentreter kick)
2nd - 11:20 - Carlinville - Bobby Seals 63-yard run (Lonny Rosentreter kick)
2nd - 5:44 - Carlinville - Ethen Siglock 16-yard pass from Ayden Tiburzi (Lonny Rosentreter kick)
2nd - 2:37 - Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 72-yard pass from Zane Duff (Chase Murray kick)
4th - 2:56 - Hillsboro - Blaze Helton 8-yard run (Chase Murray kick)
4th - 1:52 - Carlinville - Zack Reed safety
Passing (9-21-162): Zane Duff 9-21-162, 1 TD.
Rushing (37-39): Blaze Helton 10-42, Zane Duff 20-1, Jace Tuetken 5-0, Joe Keiser 2-(-4).
Receiving (9-162): Jace Tuetken 2-79, Jude Bertolino 4-36, Blaze Helton 1-27, Drew Willman 2-20.
Defense (solo/assists): Magnus Wells 9/3; Blaze Helton 6/4; Jackson Hamby 8/1, 1 INT; Ian Malloy 8/1; Drew Willman 5/2; Brady Huber 3/2; Maddex Scott 4/1; Joe Keiser 3/1; Bryce Connor 2/1; Jude Bertolino 1/1; Jaben Compton 1/1; Jace Tuetken 0/2.