Dylan Kubly finds room in the end zone for the completed 2   point conversion

By Derek Hoesly


SPRING GREEN- Brodhead-Juda (0-1 overall, 0-0 Rock Valley) nearly pulled off a fourth quarter comeback dropping a shootout 44-38 in the regular season opener.

The Blackhawks took a quick 7-0 lead. Elijah Alt connected with Derek Wedige for a 46-yard touchdown throw at the 10:16 mark.

River Valley extended the lead to 14-0 on their next possession. A costly false start penalty by the Cardinals on third and three kept the drive alive. Alt hit Ryan Wickman along the sideline for a 32-yard touchdown strike.

The Cardinals answered on their second drive cutting the Blackhawks’ lead to 14-8. Senior Ned Slocum ripped off a 45-yard touchdown run late in the quarter.

River Valley would immediately get the momentum right back. The big plays continued as Hunter Schwingle busted through the Cardinals defense for a 55-yard touchdown run to put River Valley up 21-8.

The Cardinals ground attack came back with a seven-minute drive. Junior Bryson Ils opened the drive with an eight-yard burst. Senior Jake Pickel had an eight-yard run on the drive. On fourth and three junior Matt Schmitt found Slocum for a crucial 21-yard gain to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Slocum found the end zone with a four-yard run to slice River Valley’s lead to 21-14 with 3:44 left in the half.

Brodhead-Juda would take their first lead of the game early in the second half. The Cardinals continued to pound the ball after halftime. Senior Dylan Kubly ignited the drive with a 12-yard run. On third and four from the 48-yard line, Schmitt executed a perfect pitch to Slocum, who scampered for 40-yards. Kubly capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run up the middle to give Brodhead-Juda a 22-21 lead.

The Blackhawks wasted no time re-taking the lead. A key play came on third and 21 as River Valley picked up 20 yards to set up a manageable fourth and one. The Blackhawks explosive plays struck again as Alt connected with Cole Eastlick for a 27-yard touchdown strike to give River Valley a 28-22 lead midway through the quarter.

Brodhead-Juda answered on the ensuing drive. Schmitt hit sophomore Parker Johnson for a 23-yard touchdown strike to put the Cardinals up 30-28 with 1:42 left in the quarter.

The Blackhawks took the lead for good moments into the fourth quarter. Alt did major damage with his legs on the drive with keepers of 15 and seven-yards. Alt finished the scoring drive with a six-yard touchdown quarterback keeper to give River Valley a 36-30 lead.

Brodhead-Juda had a crucial penalty to halt their next drive. After getting stuffed on third and three, the Cardinals lined up to go for it but were whistled for a false start, which forced Brodhead-Juda to punt. As a team, the Cardinals had 10 penalties for 90 yards.

“I think we had double digit penalties tonight. I don’t know about that one. I can’t remember all the penalties. We can’t have that many,” coach BJ Bockhop said.

River Valley made that penalty come back to hurt the Cardinals. The Blackhawks chewed up more than four minutes on the clock and found the end zone to go up 44-30 with just 3:53 to play. Alt ripped off a 25-yard keeper to cap the drive. Alt had a solid night going 7-for-9 with 167 yards and three touchdown passes and two touchdowns on the ground.

“We didn’t stop them all night. We have to tighten it up on defense. We got tired. We’re not too deep. We were cramping up. They weren’t cramping up. So that tells us we’re not fueling our bodies the right way. Some kids are showing us that they want to step up in starting spots and some kids aren’t. We have to figure that out,” Bockhop said.

The Cardinals didn’t quit as the offense marched down the field. Schmitt opened the drive with a pair of nine-yard strikes to Slocum. On fourth and eight Schmidt found Slocum again for a nine-yard strike to keep the Cardinals comeback hopes alive. With 36 seconds left, Schmidt hit Slocum for a 28-yard touchdown throw to pull the Cardinals within six at 44-38.

“Well we just don’t quit and that’s what we talk about every year. Attitude and effort they can control that and they had a positive attitude and played hard and didn’t quit down to the last second,” Bockhop said.

The Cardinals recovered an onside kick on the Blackhawks’ 40-yard line to give them a shot at an impressive comeback to open the season. Schmitt connected with Pickel for an eight-yard gain that placed the ball on the 17-yard line with nine seconds left. After a Brodhead-Juda timeout, Schmitt found Slocum in the back of the end zone and Slocum went up and appeared to come back down in bounds, but was called out of bounds to the disbelief of the Cardinals sideline. With one second still on the clock Brodhead-Juda had one more play. Schmitt hit Slocum just inches from the goal line as time ran out.

“I have to look at the film. I really don’t know right now,” Bockhop said of the controversial call.

In his first varsity start, Schmidt went 14-for18 with 149 yards and two touchdowns. Kubly had 106 rushing yards on 24 carries and one touchdown. Slocum led the rushing attack with 180 yards on 11 caries and two touchdowns. As a team, Brodhead-Juda rushed for 336 yards on 54 carries. Slocum had six catches for 92 yards.

“They’re our main horses. They’re going to get the ball and have to get the yards for us,” Bockhop said of the running game.

Brodhead-Juda hosts Evansville-Albany on Friday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at Brodhead High School in the Cardinals home opener.

“You don’t forget about something like this. You build off of it and carry it into next week. We lost tonight. Somebody is going to have to pay for that and all of our energy is going to go into Evansville-Albany,” Bockhop said.