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Vandalia shuts out Roxana for big homecoming win

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By Jonathan Stark

Rebounding from a week two loss to Carlinville, the Vandals shut down Roxana’s offense and forced five turnovers en route to a 35-0 victory, on homecoming.

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In the opening minutes, it was Vandalia’s defense that was doing the scoring. Just six plays into the game, defensive back Cory Bunker intercepted a Roxana pass around midfield. Bunker was able to cut and weave his way to a touchdown, putting Vandalia up 7-0 after the point after-attempt.

After a failed punt by Roxana several drives later, Vandalia took over in Shells' territory with a short field.

A 29-yard pass from Marty Johnson to Daniel Bell put the Vandals in the red zone at the 14. Johnson followed up with three incomplete passes, but on fourth and 10, he hooked up with Matt Hoffman in the end zone to put Vandalia up 13-0. The Vandals would miss the PAT.

After Roxana ate up much of second half driving from its own 20 down to the Vandals 15, a fumble ended the Shells' scoring threat and gave Vandalia its second turnover of the game.

Johnson threw an interception several plays into Vandalia’s drive, but Roxana could not put together a scoring drive before time expired in the second quarter.

“I thought Roxana played well in the first half,” coach John Stout said. “They did a good job of controlling the ball in the first half.”

Bunker almost opened up the second half with a kickoff return for a touchdown. He was just one block away from being sprung when he was tackled at the Roxana 43-yard line.

After a 12-play drive consisting of 11 runs and one pass, Bunker punched it in from the 2-yard line to go up 19-0. Lining up for a PAT, the holder took the snap and flipped the ball to Bell. Bell scampered into the end zone untouched for the two-point conversion, putting Vandalia up by three touchdowns 21-0.

“We made some adjustments at halftime, and we came out and played a really good second half,” Stout said.

Vandalia’s defense came up big again on the next drive, sackig the quarterback three consecutive times. The major loss of yardage gave the Vandals offense an extremely short field after a punt.

A holding penalty would threaten to kill the Vandals drive, but Johnson and Bell hooked up on third and 16 from the 27-yard line. Bell and his defender got tangled up in the catch in the end zone and both came down with duel possession, giving Vanadalia another score. The PAT put the Vandals up 28-0 with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

The Vandals defense was called on in the red zone once again in the fourth quarter. After Roxana converted on fourth and long to get inside the 10-yard line, it fumbled the ball on a bad snap. The Vandals recovered the ball on the 11, its second fumble recovery inside the 20 of the night.

“Our defense bended a little bit, but it didn’t break,” Stout said.

Vandalia’s offense marched down the field again behind its running game. Bunker rushed for his third score of the night, a 23-yard rush that put Vandalia up 35-0. The defense would keep the Shells out of the end zone for the final minutes, securing Vandalia’s second shut out of the season.

Bunker had 73 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. He also had a touchdown on an interception. Vandalia had 93 yards on the ground.

For the second consecutive game, the Vandals threw for more than 100 yards. Johnson was 5-12 for 101 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception.

Bell had four catches for 87 yards and a score. Hoffman’s lone catch was a 14-yard touchdown reception.

“We saw last week that we could throw the ball, and we wanted to open it up a little bit,” Stout said. “We want to be more balanced.”

Will Cowger had 14 tackles on the night. Vandalia's defense held the Shells to 138 yards and forced five fumbles (recovered four) and had an interception.

Friday, Vandalia (2-1) remain at home to face Alton Marquette Catholic High School (1-2). Although the Explorers are 1-2 this might be a trap game for the Vandals, as Marquette beat Carlinville 34-21 in the first week of the season one week prior to Carlinville beating Vandalia 41-19.

Marquette has scored 24 of more points in two or its three games, but has given up more than 21 points in all three. The Explorers bring a run heavy package to Vandalia as they have passed only 11 times this season, for 81 yards. They have more than 600 yards on the ground and nine rushing touchdowns this fall. Marquette has only punted three times in as many games.