Bear Bryant once said, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” Four games into the 2021 season, the Nokomis High School football team is in the enviable position to have both.
For the second week in a row, the Redskins held their opponents without a point, beating Madison 42-0, while also rushing for more than 300 yards for the third week in a row.
The Trojans were held to under 100 yards of offense, with Nokomis picking up two interceptions and recovering two fumbles to bring their season totals to nine picks and four recoveries.
Even with their overall success on the day, the defense was pressed into service early as Madison had the ball deep in Nokomis territory on both of their first two drives. Neither would yield scores though and Nokomis’ offense would get rolling the second time they had the ball.
Starting from their own 37 with 5:32 left in the first quarter, the Redskins would put together a 14-play drive that ate up almost eight minutes of clock and ended with a four-yard touchdown by Landon Engelman, who ran in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.
The score would be the first of three in the quarter for Nokomis, who led 22-0 at halftime after a scoreless first quarter. After Engelman’s touchdown, the Redskins wasted little time in getting the ball back as Braeston Brummet recovered a Trojan fumble on the first play of the drive.
Nokomis fed Madison a steady diet of running plays, with Jake Watson, Matt Hill, Engelman and Jake Johnson splitting up the work. Johnson would get the ball in the final play of the drive, taking it in from 13 yards out to make it 16-0 after Connor Overby’s two-point conversion pass to Nolan Ernst.
In addition to turnovers, penalties also haunted the Trojans, who had an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown called back due to two penalties following Nokomis’ score. Instead of it being an 8-to-10 point game, Madison still trailed by 16 and would give the ball back two plays later when Cameron Engelhart picked up Nokomis’ second fumble recovery of the day.
After the long scoring drive in their previous possession, Nokomis needed just four plays to score again, with Matt Hill busting through for a 14-yard touchdown run that made it 22-0.
With time winding down in the half, it looked as if the Trojans might get on the board, thanks in part to some luck as Landon Engelman had two interceptions called off after he was deemed to be out of bounds when the pass was caught. Madison worked their way down to the four yard line, but were unable to avoid the turnover bug as Engelman snagged his fifth interception of the season in the Trojan endzone.
After a penalty on the return negated Engelman’s long runback, Nokomis got back to work and made it all the way down to the Madison two yard line. The Trojans would come up big though, keeping Nokomis out of the end zone and the score at 22-0.
Any hopes of a comeback were dashed with a long Nokomis drive to start the second half. The Redskins fumbled the kickoff to start the third quarter, but got the ball right back on Dylan Hayes’ second interception of the year.
With the ball on their own 18, Nokomis put together a 19-play marathon drive that sapped the Trojans of their confidence and ate up more than ten minutes of clock, nearly taking up the whole third quarter. Jake Watson would end the drive with a one-yard touchdown, with Connor Overby running in the two-point conversion to make it 30-0.
The drive was a back breaker for Madison, who went four-and-out on their next two possessions. Nokomis responded on offense with two more touchdown drives, with Engelman scoring from nine yards out to make it 36-0, then Hill finding the end zone on another nine yard run to up the lead to 42-0 and start the running clock with five minutes to play.
Madison would have just three more plays after the kickoff, with Braeston Brummet dropping the Trojan quarterback for a sack as an exclamation point on the 42-point win.
While the defense was highlighted by turnovers and limiting big plays from the Trojans, the offense was truly a team effort as four players had 84 yards or more. Matt Hill led the team in rushing with 97 yards, followed by Jake Johnson with 95, Jake Watson with 86 and Landon Engelman with 84. Connor Overby also had 12 yards rushing and three-yards passing, with Nolan Ernst catching the lone pass.
The victory keeps Nokomis atop the Cahokia Conference small school standings, with two games left on the schedule. Next Friday, April 16, the Redskins host Dupo, who is 2-2 on the season after falling to Red Bud 62-20. Red Bud, who is 3-1 overall, but 3-0 against small school Cahokia competition, hosts Nokomis in the final week of the season.
April 10 at Madison
Nokomis(4-0) 0 22 8 12 42
Madison (0-4) 0 0 0 0 0
2nd - 9:24 - Nokomis - Landon Engelman 4-yard run (Landon Engelman run)
2nd - 6:07 - Nokomis - Jake Johnson 13-yard run (Connor Overby pass to Nolan Ernst)
2nd - 3:11 - Nokomis - Matt Hill 14-yard run (pass failed)
3rd - 1:03 - Nokomis - Jake Watson 1-yard run (Connor Overby run)
4th - 6:06 - Nokomis - Landon Engelman 9-yard run (run failed)
4th - 5:01 - Nokomis - Matt Hill 9-yard run (kick failed)
Passing (1-3-3): Connor Overby 1-3-3.
Rushing (60-374): Matt Hill 11-97, 2 TD; Jake Johnson 10-95, 1 TD; Jake Watson 19-86, 1 TD; Landon Engelman 18-84, 2 TD; Connor Overby 2-12.
Receiving (1-3): Nolan Ernst 1-3.
Defense (solo/assists): Dylan Hayes 2/2, 1 INT, 1 sack; Craig Bertolino 1/3; Tanner Woolard 2/2; Connor Overby 2/1; Jake Johnson 1/1; Cameron Engelhart 0/2, 1 fumble recovery; Landon Engelman 2/0, 1 INT; Matt Hill 1/0; Jake Watson 1/0; Braeston Brummet 1/0, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack; Brenton Lyons 1/0.