SYCAMORE — The Morris Redskins football team was trying to play spoiler on Friday night as they traveled to Sycamore to play the Spartans on their homecoming. However, Sycamore literally brought out the big guns as the Spartans tried to notch their first Northern Illinois Big 12 East victory of the season.
Morris forced a Sycamore turnover on downs on the game’s first possession, and Morris jumped out to an early 7-0 lead when senior fullback Collin Grogan capped a six play 61 yard drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge. The Redskins ate up the majority of their yardage on the drive when quarterback Zach Cinnamon found wide receiver Anthonee Monson on a rocket screen that Monson turned into a big 48 yard gain.
However, that would be the extent of the scoring in the first half. Morris held the Spartans to just 81 yards of total offense for the half, and intercepted senior quarterback Devin Mottet two times. Unfortunately that never translated into points for the Redskins.
Morris was able to rack up 156 yards of total offense of their own, but a costly interception and an untimely fumble cost the Redskins a pair of scoring opportunities.
Late in the first half, after a Cinnamon fumble was recovered by Sycamore defensive back Dion Hooker, Sycamore running back Austin Culton found a seam and looked like he was going to break it for a huge gain, but Morris defensive back Brad Rickard tripped up Culton, saving a touchdown and preserving Morris’ 7-0 lead at halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, another interception by Cinnamon gave Sycamore the ball in Morris territory. However, the Morris defense responded by forcing a turnover of their own on a Jake Hogan interception.
Hogan was tasked all night with covering Sycamore’s star wideout Ben Niemann, and after a solid first quarter from Niemann, Hogan locked in and shut the 6’3” junior down.
“I take a lot of pride in lining up against the other team’s best receiver,” Hogan said. “My coaches help me a lot with watching film and running different players at me – fast, slow, quick on their feet. They run all their best receivers at me to prepare me.”
Morris finally capitalized on Sycamore’s third interception, and took the air out of the Sycamore crowd with a 14 play 79 yard drive that ended in a 16 yard touchdown run by Cinnamon. Fernando Del Toro’s extra point was partially blocked, but the two score cushion gave Morris a comfortable lead.
With a two score lead, Morris was intent to pound away out of the T-Formation and milk the clock with their three-headed rushing attack consisting of Grogan and senior tailbacks Jeff Perry and Reese Sobol.
Despite five Morris turnovers on the night, Sycamore could never get anything going offensively and Morris would improve to 6-0 on the season and 2-0- in the conference with a 13-0 win.
The shutout was Morris’ second of the season.
“We made it a point that they weren’t gonna be shooting those cannons tonight,” Morris head coach Alan Thorson said. “Our defense played great, and they really carried us.”