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Vandals take down Roxana for homecoming victory

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Three touchdowns of at least 50 yards propel Vandalia to its second win of the season during 42-6 rout

By Andrew Harner

The Vandals had three scores of at least 50 yards last Friday while piling up more than 300 rushing yards in a 42-6 rout of Roxana to earn their seventh straight homecoming victory.

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Senior Levi Ulmer broke free for touchdown runs of 57 and 50 yards en route to a 132-yard effort for the game, and fellow senior Bryan Hosick dashed to the end zone on a 60-yard play as part of his 105-yard night.

Luke Smith, a junior, also had a 48-yard run, and Hosick added a 34-yard scamper during the home opener.

Coach John Stout said that those players just had to run the ball down the field, because other players on the team were making decisions that left the field wide open for the team to gain 349 rushing yards on the night.

“(Quarterback Tim Ritchey) did a great job of reading (the defense),” Stout said. “At one point late in the first half, they were pinching hard on Ulmer and putting a linebacker up top on Tim, so we switched our blocking assignments a little bit.”

At the start of the game, however, the Vandals (2-1) were playing a more meticulous style.

After dispatching Roxana’s opening drive with a three-and-out, Vandalia used 13 plays – including two successful fourth-down tries – to go 55 yards down the field, scoring on a 1-yard push by Hosick with 4:22 left in the opening quarter.

But then came the second quarter, and the Vandals opened it with a bang.

On the first play, Ulmer burst through the defense and went downfield for his 57-yard touchdown to move Vandalia ahead, 14-0.

That lead felt safe, because the Vandals defense was playing very well, but in last season’s game at Roxana, Vandalia’s 14-0 lead was erased during a 32-14 Shells win, and the players didn’t want a repeat.

“We talked in the locker room that if we are up 14-0, (the Shells) are going to be saying, ‘We were at this point last year, and came back to beat them,’” Stout said. “We emphasized all week keeping the foot on the throttle.”

The Vandals did just that, as Smith rushed untouched off the edge to sack Roxana’s quarterback, Nicholas Hand, and force a punt to end the very next drive.

Moments later, Hosick ran through a gaping hole in the defense, and was off for a 60-yard score.

“That was an over formation, and they didn’t adjust,” Stout said. “Coach Clay said in the box, ‘I think we can get them with our power play.’”

The Shells (0-3) would have to punt twice the rest of the half, and there were three turnovers – including an interception and a fumble recovery by Ritchey.

After Ritchey’s fumble, he ran for a touchdown, but that was negated by a holding penalty. Undeterred, he fired a pass two plays later to Smith for a 36-yard score to put Vandalia ahead, 28-0, with 2 minutes left in the half.

The lead was never in jeopardy, but the Vandals had a sluggish start to the second half, allowing Roxana to move the ball downfield 64 yards – including a 44-yard gain on a fake punt – for a touchdown.

Senior Blake Mills, however, jumped in front of the point-after attempt to hold the Shells to six points.

But, the Vandals had just 4 offensive yards of their own after two third-quarter drives.

“We worried in the fact that we don’t want any lull periods,” Stout said. “The concern was finding out their adjustments out of halftime, and us readjusting to that.

“When we did, that’s when we went to town.”

It all came together at once, as Smith gained 34 yards on the first play of the third drive, and Ulmer rumbled 50 yards for a touchdown two plays later.

Ulmer’s yardage has steadily increased by about 40 yards each game, and he has scored four touchdowns on the year.

“When they honor (Ulmer), Hosick has been the big gun in the slot,” Stout said. “When people see on film that Ulmer made some big plays, that will keep them more honest.”

The hope is that that will continue to allow Hosick to continue finding the success that has allowed him to gain 331 yards and five touchdowns on the ground this season.

Smith, however, continued to show that he can also be a weapon in the Vandals’ backfield, carrying for 48 yards to help set up his own 7-yard touchdown run with 7:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Stats
Rushing: Ulmer, 14-132, 2 TD; Hosick, 14-105, 2 TD; Smith, 6-96, TD; C.J. Runkel, 3-13; Alex Newsom, 2-5; Ritchey, 4-(-1); Wade Cowger, 2-(-2)
Passing: Ritchey, 1-7, 36 yards, TD, INT
Receiving: Smith, 1-36, TD
Defensive: Blake Mills, 8  tackles (2 for loss), PAT block; Smith, 5 tackles (2 for loss); Newsom, 5 tackles; Ulmer, 3 tackles (2 for loss); Chase Woolsey, 3 tackles (1 for loss); Ritchey, INT, fumble recovery; Quenten Austin, fumble recovery; Levi Carroll, punt block

Preview: Week 4
Vandalia vs. Marquette Catholic

Time and place: Friday at 7 p.m. at Vandalia.

Last time out: The Vandals manufactured a late touchdown drive to come back for a 13-12 win at Marquette.

Trends: The Vandals have historically struggled against Marquette Catholic, posting a 2-5 record against the Explorers, with the second win coming in 2005. The past four contests have all been decided by 16 or fewer points.

Stout says: Coach John Stout said, "The key to the game for us will be to stop their big plays. In each of their three games, they have gotten big plays from their slot backs or wideouts. On offense, the key will be for us to continue to improve our execution of the offense. It has gotten better each game, and we hope to use it to neutralize some of their individual players."

Last week: Vandalia beat Roxana, 42-6., and Marquette beat Hillsboro, 32-8. The Vandals are 2-1, and the Explorers are 3-0 this season.