NORMAL – Neither Normal Community West High School nor home team Normal Community High School were blowing smoke at each other in the days leading up to the annual “Chili Bowl” rivalry game held on Ironmen Field Aug. 31, but a student activity designed to have a little fun to start the game nearly kept fans from seeing Normal West’s first score of the game.

But NCHS saw a clear path to victory in the first meeting between these two teams in a season where both sides had new coaches, as the Ironmen outpaced the Wildcats, 49-27 before roughly 2,500 fans. As a result of the victory, NCHS holds a 17 wins to 6 advantage on the Wildcats in the series.

As Wildcats junior running back Aimry Schieler recovered the football after a scramble of an NCHS fumble 10 seconds into the contest, students in NCHS’ front rows of the student section tossed pink-colored baby powder in the air which blocked some fans’ and the media’s view of the play. What some fans missed as a result was Schieler scoring on a 27 yard run. That was followed by an extra point by senior kicker Parker Theobald, putting West up, 7-0.

Senior running back Dishon Hall’s 9 yard touchdown reception of a pass from senior quarterback Daylen Boddie tied the game at 7-all at 9:35 in the first quarter after senior kicker Josue Nsukami’s extra point.

Senior wide receiver Connor Lay closed out the scoring in the first quarter first, with a 15 yard run but Nsukami saw his extra point blocked by the Wildcats’ front line. However, NCHS led 13-7. After Normal West (1-1) punted to finish the next series of downs, Lay scored from 7 yards out to complete five play, 59 yard march for the Ironmen’s next score with 1:49 left in the quarter. Lay’s touchdown, followed by a two-point run by Boddie gave NCHS (2-0) a 21-7 lead going into the second quarter.

Boddie starred in the second quarter scoring twice before halftime. First, from 19 yards out to top a 9 play, 63 yard march, followed by another Nsukami extra point, putting NCHS up, 28-7 at the quarter’s 8:27 mark. Then, after an interception by senior defensive back Myles Doggan disrupted West’ next drive, Boddie scored again, this time from five yards out, followed by Lay’s two-point conversion, putting NCHS up, 36-7 with 2:22 until halftime.

West went 75 yards on five plays to score on the ensuing drive, with junior wide receiver Cole Hernandez scoring from 12 yards out on a pass from Camp followed by Camp kicking the extra point, cutting the Ironmen’s lead, 36-14, with 1:07 until halftime.

West’s turnover on downs following the second half kickoff gave NCHS the ball at their own 24 and three plays later, partly due to a rushing the passer call against West, Boddie scored on a 40 yard keeper play followed by Nsukami’s next extra point, putting NCHS up, 43-14 with six minutes until the end of the third quarter.

West tried a little diversionary tactic with a direct snap to senior running back Davion McQuirter who ran from two yards out for a score followed by a failed two-point try, reducing NCHS’ lead, 43-20, with 8:59 left in the contest.

From there, each team would have a series of downs, NCHS’ ending in a punt while Normal West’s resulted in a turnover on downs. When NCHS got the ball back as a result, they went 61 yards on four plays for their last score on the night, Boddie’s fourth touchdown on the night from 4 yards out. But NCHS (2-0) held a 49-20 lead despite West defenders managing to block the extra point.

West junior backup quarterback Delane Matthews saw action toward the end of the contest scoring from 12 yards out followed by another Theobald extra point.

Following the initial Wildcats score that opened the game, NCHS head football coach Jason Drengwitz explained, his team kept their cool, both players and coaches, appearing not to be rattled by their opponent’s quick opening score. Assessing the remainder of the contest, Drengwitz said, “Defense played well, we put a lot of points on the board, gave us a cushion, we took care of the football.”

He added he “couldn’t have been happier with how the half went after West’s opening score. After that, he said, “Our defense played well, we put a lot of points on the board and gave ourselves a cushion, and took care of the football.”

“Normal is a very good football team and we just have to come out and take care of the ball a little bit better and execute a little better on both sides of the ball,” Normal West head coach Nathan Fincham explained. “Boddie is just a really good football player and tough to stop.”

NCHS will play host to Urbana Friday while Normal West visits Danville. Both games start at 7p.m.

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