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Second half shutout gives Vandals first loss

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By Jonathan Stark

In its second game of the season, Friday night, Vandalia was shut out in the second half by Carlinville, giving the Vandals their first loss of the season, 44-19.

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“We knew they had everybody coming back from last year, and they won the western side of the conference last year. We thought we’d have to come up here and play pretty well,” head coach John Stout said.

Vandalia started the game off showing the depth and talent of its offense, particularly the running game. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Marty Johnson faked a handoff to Drew Stewart and ran the ball up the middle. Johnson then cut right and out ran the Cavilers defense for a 78-yard touchdown run to put Vandalia up 7-0 after the point-after attempt, just 53 seconds into the game.

The defense was just as efficient in the early going. On Carlinville’s second play, Vandalia was able to strip the ball and recover the fumble inside the Cavs’ territory at the 39.

On the Vandals' ensuing drive, facing a third-and-long situation Johnson found Cory Bunker for a 30-yard pass to put Vandalia in the red zone.

After the drive stalled inside the 10-yard line, Vandalia missed a 29-yard field goal attempt.

Vandalia’s defense forced a three-and-out, but Vandalia muffed the Cavs' punt and Carlinville recovered the ball on Vandalia’s 46. Carlinville could not move the ball and was forced to punt, but got the ball back two plays later, Vandalia fumbled the ball on a bad handoff. The Cavs took over at the Vandals' 22-yard line.

Carlinville was able to tie the game on an 18-yard touchdown run with just over a minute left in the first quarter.

Bunker took the kickoff into Carlinville territory but Johnson’s pass on first and 10 was intercepted and run back to the Vandals' 40-yard line. The defense was able to hold, thanks to a personal foul by Carlinville that pushed it back 15 yards.

Vandalia lost the ball after a fumble on another bad handoff on its next possession. The Cavs used sweep plays to great effect, taking advantage of Vandalia’s young perimeter defense. They would score on a sweep play to the right side, taking a 14-7 lead after a 24-yard run.

“They got some lead blockers out in front of them,” Stout said. “When they got out around the corner, they were hard to bring down. They just out-quicked us on the edge there.”

Johnson and Bunker hooked up for a 72-yard touchdown strike with 5:56 left in the second quarter. The PAT was no good, and Vandalia trailed 14-13.

Carlinville worked the ball into Vandalia territory using its running game all night. The Cavs capped off an 80-yard drive with a 10-yard run up the middle to take a 21-13 lead after the PAT with 2:31 left in the first half.

Vandalia was able to orchestrate a 78-yard drive with just over two minutes remaining in the half. The series was anchored by a 39-yard pass from Johnson to Daniel Bell that got Vandalia into Carlinville territory and put the Vandals on the 18-yard line with a minute to go until the half. With 34 seconds remaining, Johnson found Bunker in the middle of the end zone for 7-yard score. The Vandals would go for two, trying to tie the game at 21-21, but Johnson’s pass was incomplete. Vandalia would end up going into the locker room trailing 21-19.

Five minutes into the third quarter, Carlinville put up another running score on an 11-yard rush. They went up 28-19 after the 11-play (all runs), 58-yard drive.

The Cavs would get on the board again in the third quarter on a 15-yard passing touchdown. Vandalia was able to block the PAT to keep the score at 34-19.

Carlinville struck for the final time with about 10 minutes left in the game. Another passing touchdown put them up 41-19 after the PAT.

“We got into a mode where we had to throw. We completed some balls but they (Carlinville) were sitting back there,” Stout said. “When you get in a situation where you have to pass, that gives the advantage to them. You have to give them credit; they just dropped their secondary back. We got some things going in the middle of the field, but when we got down there close, we couldn’t punch it in.”

Johnson completed 14 of 26 passes for 262 yards. It was only the fifth time in school history a quarterback has thrown for more than 250 yards in a game. Johnson hooked up for two touchdowns and was intercepted once.

Bunker was the leading receiver with 120 yards and two scores. Bell brought in four catches for 79 yards.

Johnson was also the team's leading rusher with 73 yards on four carries and one touchdown. Bunker had 30 yards on six carries. Vandalia had 115 total rushing yards.

Jake Whalen had a team-high 12 tackles, Caleb Walton had 11, two of which were for a loss.

Vandalia’s defense gave up 324 yards on the ground.

“We’re still sitting here with a lot of season left at 1-1. We come back home now for two games,” Stout said. “I think coming home for two weeks…It’s going to be a huge boost for us, morale wise.”

This Friday, Vandalia (1-1) will host Roxana (1-1) for homecoming. The Vandals are 3-5 overall against the Shells. After winning the first five meetings, Roxana has been shutout in the last three. Vandalia has also won its last four homecoming games.

Last week against Hillsboro, the Shells were shutout 41-0. Roxana had just 48 total yard on offense (-10 rushing yards).

Last season, Vandalia beat Roxana 48-0 as the Shells went 0-9 on the season. The Vandals racked up more than 400 yards on offense and scored seven time in the rout.

During halftime at Friday’s game, Vandalia will announce the 2009 VCHS Hall of Fame inductees. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at home.