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The Vandalia Vandals are proving they are a force to contend with, especially at home. This very different 2021 football season has shown one thing, that the Vandalia gridiron guys can play either on the road or at home. The Vandals crushed Interstate I-70 rival, the Greenville Comets, 20-0, Friday night, April 16, in the first of two homes games at the end of the season. They are now 4-1, with a final game to go this Friday night against Gillespie.
While the first three quarters seemed like a seesaw of a game, the Vandal momentum slowly grew, as they were first to score, with 1:14 left in the first quarter as Matthew Hagy telegraphed Carson Ruot from 25 yards out, and Cody Stewart split the upright in the point after.
The Vandals waited until the fourth quarter the put away their opponents, and did so in fine fashion.
As both teams fought back and fourth, Vandalia finally reached the end zone at the beginning of the fourth quarter, with Hagy connecting with Nolan White on a 30-yard pass, and Stewart again making the extra point, for a 14-0 advantage.
With the clock ticking down, Hagy found a hole and ran for 44 yards to reach pay dirt. The point after was no good, and the final score was set, 20-0.
“I am proud of how our kids played all around. Offensively we moved the ball well but have to do a better job this week of putting points on the board and finishing drives. Overall our special teams played much better this week. We had a couple of big punts that allowed us to keep them pinned deep in their own end,” says Vandal Head Coach Jason Clay.
Hagy had 17 carries on the night for 126 yards, including a touchdown. Dawson McKinney also helped move the ball downfield, with 16 carries for 70 yards. Connor Ray had one carry for 28 yards; White had 2 for 13 yards, and Ruot had one for one yard.
In passing yardage on the night, Hagy went 13 for 24 for 207 yards, including passing for two touchdowns, He also had two interceptions on the evening.
Ruot again led in receiving yardage, going 7 for 140 yards, including one touchdown. Next was White, hauling in two for 36 yards and one touchdown. Ray was 2 for 19 yards; Reid Well, 1 for 15 yards, and Gaige Beall had one reception for -3 yards.
Total offensive yardage on the night was an impressive 445 yards.
On the defensive side, Tiler Worker had 4 solo tackles and 7 assists, including a sack for a Greenville loss of 8 yards. McKinney also got in his shares of take downs, with 4 solos and 8 assists. Ruot had 4 solo and 2 assists; White, 3 solo and 5 assists including a sack for a 12-yard loss; Brody Hall, 3 solo and 4 assists, one sack for four yard loss; Gavin Mouser, 2 solo and 4 assists, one a sack for 15-yard loss; Michael Bowles, 2 solo and 5 assists; Beall, 2 solo and 4 assists; Ray, 3 solo and 3 assists and Eric McKinney, 1 solo and 6 assists.
“Defensively we did a really good job early of stopping their running game and forcing them to throw. Our secondary and linebackers did a good job tackling the short routes and not allowing anything big through the air. The defensive line got a couple of big sacks and quarterback pressures,” Clay said.
Bowles had a fumble recovery and return.
The Vandals host the Gillespie Miners this Friday night, April 23, for senior night.
“This week against Gillespie we should see a physical run game with a gun double wing offense. They have a fast back that can get the edge and catch the ball on the perimeter. The tight end is a big physical kid that can catch and run after the catch. Our defense will have to stay disciplined on assignments and not bite on play action passes.
“Offensively we will face a 4-man front with some man to man and also zone behind it. Offensively we will strive to be balanced and take what they are giving us. The number one focus will be clean drives with limited mistakes and good ball security,” Clay said.