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Vandals advance to 2nd round

Vandalia quarterback Andrew Kelly gives the touchdown signal as running back Jay Keck crosses the goal line in the fourth quarter of the Vandals win in the first round of the playoffs. Photo/Rich Bauer


Big second half lifts Vandalia over Lawrenceville


Three second-half touchdowns lifted Vandalia over Lawrenceville on Saturday and advanced the Vandals to the second round of postseason playoffs for the eighth time.

The 34-22 win on Saturday provided the chance to meet up with Shelbyville this Saturday.

The 7-3 Vandals are hosting the 8-1 Rams for a second-round contest.

This is the 18th year the Vandals have made it to the playoffs since the IHSA initiated postseason play in the 1975-76 school year.

Jason Clay has a perfect 7-for-7 record in advancing to the playoffs in his eight years as the Vandals’ head coach. During the COVID season, the IHSA limited teams to six games and did not hold playoff games.

Vandalia’s Kohnor Depew fights off a Lawrenceville defender on his way to a touchdown in the second quarter of Saturday’s win. Photo/Rich Bauer

The Vandals jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter on touchdowns from Landon Christian and Kohnor Depew before allowing Lawrenceville to gain a 16-14 advantage at halftime.

Vandalia quarterback Andrew Kelly hooked up with Depew on a 36-yard pass play to put the Vandals up 20-16 after three quarters.

Jay Keck’s 2-yard run increased the lead, then Kanon Wollerman pretty much sealed the win by returning an interception 25 yards for a score. Wollerman also returned to placekicker duties with a perfect 4-for-4 day.

“It’s not easy to get a playoff win, there are ebbs and flows,” Clay said.

“But we did a good job of weathering the storm early.

“They got a drive together, we got them stopped and they we got only one first down and had to give it back to them,” he said.

“Then, we were able to get on the board and get a two-touchdown lead, and the next thing you know, they get a couple of big plays and take the lead going into halftime with all of the momentum.

“We just kind of hit the reset button at halftime and came out and got after it,” Clay said.

“I thought Kohnor’s play in the third quarter is huge to give us the lead back, a great throw by Andrew (Kelly) and a great play by Kohnor to score,” he said.

“I thought they (Lawrenceville) panicked a little bit, as far as they kind of abandoned at what they are best at.

“Then, we were able to get another score, and Jay (Keck) running the ball hard and then the pick (six by Wollerman) that puts us up three scores,” Clay said.

“That kind of put them in a situation where they had to do some things they are not great at,” he said. “But they’ve got a lot of good kinds and they’re a good football team.”

The return of Wollerman to full duty made a difference, with his pick six and four extra points, as well as being one of the Vandals’ leading tacklers.

Vandalia’s Kanon Wollerman dashes to the end zone after picking off a Lawrenceville pass and helping to seal the Vandals’ win. Photo/Rich Bauer

“He got a couple of holding calls on him and he got frustrated,” Clay said. “I just pulled him over and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to need you make some plays,’ and he got back in there and did a great job.”

But, the Vandals lost one of their key players when Jacob Johnson exited the game with a broken bone in his left arm.

“He’s a two-way starter, one of our receivers on offense and one of our linebackers, so we just have to have kids step up,” Clay said.

“We dressed some freshmen today and a couple of them got on the field today, and we’ve got some guys who have been standing back behind the guys on the field. They’re going to have to step in and play.

“Sunday night, we’ll get together and decide who can go where, and who could plug what and who could play a role.

“We’ll use everybody we’ve got,” Clay said. “There’s no holding back now.”