Grey Ghosts still undefeated at 4-0

Justin Miller

It was Illinois Valley Central’s closest game of the year, but Spring Valley Hall will not be haunting the Ghosts’ dreams after a 21-20 win by IVC.

On Friday, the Grey Ghost varsity football team took on the Red Devils in IVC’s first conference matchup of the season.

The Senior Night game began with Hall receiving the opening kickoff.

After several strong runs by Hall wide receiver Nathan Tucker, IVC linebacker Allen Simmerman created a fumble that was scooped up by fellow linebacker Cody Kentzel.

Early on in its first drive, IVC faced a fourth down and 5 to go on Hall’s 46 yard line when quarterback/punter Chris Razo came in to punt, but took the ball and ran for an IVC first down.

“It’s a good two-way play for Razo. It’s an option play, and he has the choice to either kick or run, depending on what he sees. That time, he chose to run,” head coach Tim Heinz said of the conversion.

Later in the drive, faced with fourth and 6 from the Hall 12 yard line, Razo threw a pass to wide open IVC wide receiver Terell Williams for the game’s first touchdown. Thomas Foley’s point after touchdown was no good.

When Hall’s offense took the field following their kick return, their strategy was to pound the ball with strong running by Tucker and halfback Austin Pozzi.

After a 5-yard sack by linebacker Dan “Boo” Semtner and a tackle for a loss by Foley, Hall faced a third and 17 when they connected on a 30-yard screen pass that took the Red Devils down to the IVC 11 yard line.

After two runs by Pozzi, Tucker pounded the ball into the end zone for Hall’s first touchdown.

After Hall’s PAT failed, the game was tied at 6.

IVC began its next possession with a 23 yard pass from Razo to wide receiver Justin McCallister.

Halfback James Lauber, who had 195 yards on 24 carries, led the team down to Hall’s 9 yard line before he fumbled the ball into the end zone, which Hall recovered for a touchback.

Despite long runs by Tucker, Hall’s offense stalled at IVC’s 32 yard line, when they turned the ball over on downs after a failed fourth down run.

IVC’s offense also stalled, despite strong running by Lauber, and they were forced to punt.

Neither team would move the ball again in the second quarter, and the teams went to the half tied at 6.

Coming out to start the second half, IVC’s offense had an air of strength and control about it.

After a 6-yard pass to Lauber from Razo, the Ghosts kept pounding the ball with strong running by Lauber.

When the Ghosts faced an almost drive-killing third down and 14 at Hall’s 14 yard line, Razo made a clutch pass to Lauber that went for a touchdown.

Despite Derek Sprout’s PAT being no good, Hall was called for roughing the kicker, and IVC tried for a two-point conversion, which was successful, on a strong run by Lauber, to put IVC ahead, 14-6.

Hall’s high-powered running game then took the field and, led by strong running from Pozzi and Tucker, drove the ball to IVC’s 3 yard line before Pozzi pounded the ball in for a touchdown.

Hall’s two-point conversion was no good.

After getting the ball back, Razo completed a 47 yard pass to Williams before Lauber had a fumble, which was recovered by Hall.

After the turnover, Hall’s drive stalled on its own 30 when they were forced to punt. 

Hall’s punter received a badly snapped ball and could not get the punt off before Semtner sacked him to give IVC the ball back in Hall territory on a turnover on downs.

“I came off of the weak side, and he didn’t see me coming. I saw the ball but figured it would be safer to tackle him than to go for the ball,” Semtner said.

Lauber had two runs, one of 25 yards and one of 3 yards, to pound the ball into the end zone for his second touchdown and atone for the fumble. Semtner’s PAT was good.

Hall then drove the ball down, led by its strong running game and several penalties on IVC, one for unsportsmanlike conduct, and several off-sides calls.

Set up with first and goal from IVC’s 3 yard line, Tucker pounded the ball in on third down before Pozzi made the two-point conversion to cut Hall’s deficit to one.

Thanks to runs by Lauber and Razo, IVC drove the ball to Hall’s 24 yard line before they were stopped on fourth and 3 when Razo was sacked.

Down by one and with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, Hall’s offense drove the ball into IVC territory on strong runs by Tucker and a 24 yard run by Pozzi.

IVC’s defense answered the call to stop the Red Devils, and on fourth and 8, Tucker fumbled and defensive end Jake Switzer recovered.

IVC’s offense then pounded the ball with Lauber to run out the clock before Razo took a knee to put the first conference game of the year in the books as a 21-20 victory for IVC.

“It was a physical game, “said Razo, who was 7 of 13 for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

“Our D stepped up at the end. I know our defensive line was fighting them all night long.

Offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot several times. It’s a good win against a good team.”

“This week, we played a hard team. Give the game to the D they played against a hard offense. Hall is a very good team,” Lauber said.

“I thought we played well enough to win against a good team. We need to tackle better, though. Our offense played well, but some penalties and turnovers cost us,” Heinz said after the game.

The Ghosts look to continue their success at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Homecoming night, against Mendota.