Ghosts start season strong with win

Justin Miller
Run with it: Wide receiver Justin McCallister takes the hand off in the first quarter of IVC's opening game versus Monmouth-Roseville.

Illinois Valley Central’s varsity football season started out with a bang right out of the gate.

On Friday night, the IVC Grey Ghosts beat the Monmouth-Roseville Titans by a score of 35 to 8.

The Grey Ghosts got the ball to start the game and wasted no time putting points on the board.

Early in the first drive, quarterback Chris Razo, who had 167 yards passing on the night, took the quarterback keeper and ran 41 yards for a touchdown.

On Monmouth’s first drive of the game, the Ghosts’ defense came out strong and forced the Titans to punt.

Then, on IVC’s second drive, they would score on another big play, as Razo completed a screen pass to halfback James Lauber, who ran an impressive 70 yards for the Ghosts’ second touchdown. Razo’s extra point attempt was no good.

Monmouth then answered with its only scoring drive of the game, as quarterback Cody Schreck went on a 45-yard run.  The Titans then made the two-point conversion on a run by fullback Bryan Utsinger.

IVC and Monmouth both followed with several unsuccessful drives that ended in punts.

Late in the second quarter, as the Ghosts were putting together a nice drive, Razo hung a pass up a little too high and was intercepted.

On Monmouth’s ensuing possession, Schreck fumbled the ball and IVC recovered.

The Ghosts then put together a late second-quarter drive and were set up with first and goal by a 19-yard run by halfback Jake Elias.

On first and goal, Razo threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Terell Williams on an inside slant route.

“We worked hard to get that touchdown,” said Williams. “Coming to the line, we saw they were in man-to-man coverage and knew it would be easier to get a reception on the inside pass.”

Lauber, who had 108 yards rushing on the night, then pushed the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion to make the score 21-8 at halftime.

Coming out for the second half, the IVC defense was fired up and dominant.

On the opening possession, the Grey Ghosts forced a three and out, including a monster sack by defensive lineman Thomas Foley.

After the Ghosts got the ball back, Lauber had runs of 24 yards and 16 yards, and Elias had runs of six yards and 15 yards to set up a first and goal.

On first and goal, Razo threw his third touchdown pass of the game, this time to wide receiver Justin McCallister.

On the Titans' next possession, the Ghosts forced another three and out, including a sack by Elias, who doubles as a linebacker.

After a three and out by the Ghosts, the Titans got the ball back and Schreck threw a pass that was intercepted by IVC defensive back Drasen Johnson.

The Ghosts then had a drive that ended in a punt and the Titans followed suit with a failed drive of their own.

Then, now in the fourth quarter, the Ghosts put together another impressive drive.

After an 18-yard run by Elias, Razo threw a 44-yard pass to Lauber, which was followed by a nine-yard run by Lauber, a seven-yard run by Elias and a six-yard run by Lauber.

Elias, who had 122 yards rushing for the game, then powered the ball in for the Ghosts’ fifth touchdown of the night.

Linebacker Kolbe Weller and defensive back Keegan Horack then put an end to the Titans’ last offensive drive, as they stopped the Titans on a fourth down conversion.

IVC then ran out the clock and put the first game of the season into the books as a win.

“We came out the first week and did well,” said IVC head coach Tim Heinz. “The defense looked good in the second half. We need to clean up the penalties for next week, though.”

IVC’s next game is at home against Peoria-Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m. Friday.