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Daily Journal
     September 21, 2021      #73-264 KDJ
 

Kays keep it rolling in romp of Centennial 

By Cody Smith
csmith@daily-journal.com


KANKAKEE — After a subpar performance in Week 3 by its own standards, Kankakee’s football team wanted to come into its Week 4 matchup against Champaign Centennial and make a statement, and on Friday evening, that statement was made loud and clear as the Kays walked off the field with a 40-0 shutout victory at home to improve to 4-0 on the season.

“I could just tell from pregame and warmups that we were more locked in this week than we were last week,” Kays coach Derek Hart said. “We were just clicking on all cylinders — offensively, defensively and special teams — we were doing all the right things.”

Kankakee’s offense was locked in from the opening kick as the Kays opened up their first three possessions with touchdowns. After a solid kickoff return by Jyaire Hill that helped set the Kays up with a 1st-and-10 on Centennial’s 42-yard line on the game’s opening play, Kankakee went on to use that momentum to create three straight scores on its first three possessions.

Demere Turner capped off the Kays’ first drive with a 27-yard touchdown run, followed by a 10- and 39-yard touchdown receptions to Pierre Allen from quarterback Tomele Staples, which made it 20-0 by the time the first quarter ended.

“Honestly on that long touchdown reception, I just ran my hardest and fastest,” Allen said. “And then when Staples threw it, I just went up and got it.”

Kankakee’s first quarter of play was nearly flawless as the Kays totaled three scores and two forced turnovers, one of which was a forced fumble by Hill on Centennial’s opening play from scrimmage.

“It was a great start, and I just thought we were ready to go,” Hart said. “We had a great first drive that went right down and scored and then defensively Hill got a forced fumble on the first defensive play, and we just started rolling after that.”

Riding high from the momentum created by their offense in the first quarter, the Kays’ defense then followed suit with stellar play for the final 12 minutes before halftime. Kankakee’s defense forced a quick Centennial punt to begin the second quarter, which eventually led to Kays running back Nate Hill scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run to put Kankakee up 27-0 with 6:26 left before halftime. Not even three plays into Centennial’s ensuing drive, Jyaire Hill once again earned the Kays infamous turnover chain when the junior intercepted Centennial quarterback Brady Boatright off a tipped ball around midfield.

This led to another Kays touchdown, when Turner notched his second score of the evening off a 3-yard scamper to put Kankakee up 33-0 after a blocked PAT.

Kankakee’s defense then went right back to making another statement by forcing another turnover on downs when Kankakee linebacker Timarion Lee broke through the line of scrimmage for a tackle for loss on a Chargers 4th-and-1 conversion attempt from their own 42-yard line, which effectively seemed to put the game to rest early. The fourth turnover by Centennial led to Staples reaching the end zone on a quarterback scramble from 8 yards out with just 35 seconds before halftime.

“We stayed disciplined tonight, and we stayed working hard,” Hill said. “We didn’t let up, and we kept giving 100 percent throughout the entire game.”

The 40-0 lead at the break was all Kankakee needed as the Kays began to rest some of their starters after a running clock for the final 24 minutes of action. Neither team wound up scoring in the second half, as each team traded punts and failed fourth-down conversion attempts before Kankakee secured its first shutout victory of the season.

“This win was important for us and not so much the score but how we performed,” Hart said. “I think we took that next step tonight.

“I thought we took a step back last week with the way we performed, and so I think we really took that next step forward tonight.”

STAT BOOK

Staples threw for about 130 passing yards on 10 completions for two scores and added an 8-yard touchdown run on the ground. Allen grabbed four receptions for 96 yards and two scores. Hill led the Kays’ defense with a forced fumble and an interception.

UP NEXT

Kankakee (4-0) will head to Thornwood for its first Southland Athletic Conference game at 6 p.m. Friday.

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