By Steve Robinson | September 28, 2019 - 10:56 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, The Normalite

NORMAL – Meteorologists had predicted rain for Friday of week five of high school football season, so area athletic directors took precautions and scheduled their games a little ahead of schedule for Sept. 27. Normal Community High School planned ahead, moving up their Big 12 Conference tilt start time against Peoria Manual. But the game still took two days to complete, as the Ironmen defeated the Rams, 31-6, to earn a Homecoming victory.

Freshman kicker Ryan Millmore’s 36 yard field goal at 3:46 in the first quarter capped a 6 play 33 yard drive for NCHS (4-1 overall, 4-0 Big 12) and provided the sole points in the quarter for either team, putting the Ironmen up, 3-0.

Sophomore quarterback Chase Mackey and senior quarterback Aidan Quinn each led the Ironmen offense for a half of the contest, with Mackey going first, and completing a 25 yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Dylan Tracy at 10:34 in the second quarter, followed by a successful 2-Point conversion dash by Mackey to extend the Ironmen lead, 11-0.

After receiving a pitchout from sophomore quarterback Devon Owens, junior running back Joseph Franklin dashed into the end zone from 6 yards out with 1:29 until halftime, completing a 6 play, 28 yard drive. Owens added to the score with a 2-point conversion play, cutting NCHS’ lead, 11-8. The Rams fortunes for this drive came courtesy of an interception of a Mackey pass by Franklin. At the time of the interception, the Ironmen were in the midst of a drive which began at their own 37.

The score stayed that way going into halftime and the two teams went into their locker rooms, but when they came out for their three-minute warmup, lightning seen off to the west of Ironmen Field had game officials deciding to call the game before the second half kickoff. The game resumed at that point Saturday morning.

The resumption of play may have started with Peoria Manual (0-5 Big 12) receiving the kickoff, but the Rams were forced to start from the series of downs from their own 3. An interception of the third play from scrimmage by sophomore defensive back Keewan Grismore turned into a 7 yard touchdown for him and the Ironmen, followed by Millmore’s point-after, increasing NCHS’ lead, 18-6, at the 10:09 mark.

NCHS partially blocked a Rams punt with two minutes in the third quarter, giving the Ironmen the ball at their own 41. An unnecessary roughness call against the Rams and a 7 yard run by junior running back Benjamin Larson provided the set-up for Oliver’s 28 yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Dylan Tracy with 1:07 left. Tracy’s score was followed by a failed 2-point conversion try, but NCHS led, 24-6, going into the fourth quarter.

But the game was temporarily stopped by officials at the 10:58 mark when a fight between players on the Rams sideline occurred. That resulted in a brief stoppage of play, and included Rams head coach Gene Cagle taking a quick vote of his players as to whether they wanted to continue play. They did, and the game resumed. The Rams player who instigated the fight was ejected. Three plays later, junior running back Benjamin Larson ran in for a touchdown from a yard out capping a 3 play 27 yard drive followed by a Millmore extra point creating the final score.

“I don’t think the delay in finishing the game affected us because I think our coaches did a real good job in handling the situation,” NCHS head coach Jason Drengwitz said. “But more importantly, I felt that our seniors, our captains, our players handled it well.”

“I was real proud of how our team handled a difficult situation for Manual,” Drengwitz added, referring to the flair-up on the Rams sideline. “I’m really proud of them. A win’s a win and we’re excited.”

With regard to the incident on the Rams sideline, Drengwitz said Cagle wanted to stop the game after it occurred and the second season Ironmen coach said he would have agreed to whatever decision Cagle made concerning that. “You feel for him and they are so much improved but it was important that we finished it and they finished it and just a difficult situation. I’m just proud of how our guys handled it.”

Concerning the matter regarding his team, Cagle said, “I’m glad our guys took some pride went out and at least finished the game and showed respect.” He said the incident itself troubled him. Cagle said he consulted with both the referee and Drengwitz as to what they wanted to do. Cagle said he was told it was his decision what Manual would do.

Cagle then went onto the field and asked his players if they wanted to stop playing at that point. He said his players pleaded with him not to stop the game. He then took a show of hands to see how many players wanted to continue finishing the game. Enough players did to allow the contest to finish to the final horn.

Cagle, a 1989 Peoria Manual graduate, became visibly emotional as he added, “I love this game, I love my school, and it’s my alma mater and I don’t like people disrespecting my alma mater. I’m glad the guys came out and played like they meant to play.” He said there would be consequences for the offending players involved in the fourth quarter incident.

Bloomington High School Visits Ironmen Field Friday: NCHS will host a 3-2 Bloomington High School team at Ironmen Field Friday night for a 7p.m. game. The Purple Raiders engineered a 58-6 road victory against Urbana last week.

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