MAPLE PARK – It wasn’t exactly pretty but at the end of the night, the Kaneland football team walked away from its season opener with a 30-8 victory over visiting Brooks.
Kaneland fumbled three times in its first three possessions but then settled down late in the first quarter and was in control from there.
Junior quarterback Jake Marczuk grabbed the headlines with a four-touchdown performance but it was the defense that earned praise from coach Tom Fedderly.
“I was really really happy with our defense,” Fedderly said. “Our offense put them in really bad situations to start that game. We had three fumbles right away. It’s really reminiscent to last year, when I think we had six turnovers against these guys and we won 27-7.”
Marczuk connected with Tyler Paulson on a 53-yard touchdown strike to open the fourth quarter that expanded the lead to 29-8. It was the second connection for the pair on the night.
“I was lined up in the slot,” Paulson said. “I saw the guy lined up inside of me and I realized I could get an outside release on it. I knew I could beat him deep.”
Marczuk lofted a perfect pass to Paulson, who had beaten the cornerback by about five yards.
“I saw a linebacker playing up,” Marczuk said. “Paulson is really quick and I couldn't do it without him and his speed. I put it up there, let him go and make the play.”
In the first half, Kaneland capitalized on a number of mistakes by the visitors to take the lead.
Late in the first quarter, a high snap on a punt attempt at midfield resulted in the Knights starting at the Eagles’ 12-yard line. Two plays later, Marczuk found a wide open Paulson for the first touchdown of the evening.
The next Brooks possession resulted in an interception, leaving Kaneland with another relatively short starting position from the Brooks 40. The Knights drove down and eventually Marczuk found Connor Fedderly for the 4-yard score with 9:49 remaining in the second quarter.
Brooks put itself right back in the hole three plays later when Kaneland recovered another fumble on the Brooks 10 yard line. The next play Marczuk and Connor Fedderly struck again, boosting the lead to 20-0 after the extra point.
Fedderly was proud that his team was able to overcome their slow start.
"We’re pretty happy we came out with a bunch of new players, didn’t really know how this season would be,” Connor Fedderly said. “We made some mistakes early but I was really happy that we kept our heads up and kept going. We played pretty good.”
Brooks finally got on the board after a long drive, culminating in an 8-yard rush by quarterback Eric Matthews and a successful two-point conversion.
It was an otherwise rough night for Matthews, who was picked off three times by the Knights' defense.
KANELAND 30, BROOKS COLLEGE PREP 8
BROOKS 0 8 0 0
KANE 7 16 0 7
HOW THEY SCORED
KANE – Paulson 12 pass from Marczuk (Franklin kick) 4:16
KANE – Fedderly 4 pass from Marczuk (Franklin miss) 9:49
KANE – Fedderly 10 pass from Marczuk (Franklin kick) 9:21
BROOKS – Matthews 8 rush (2 pt conversion Matthews to Cobb) 6:05
KANE – Franklin 24 FG kick 1:38
KANE – Paulson 53 from Marczuk (Franklin kick) 11:40
RUSHING: Kaneland: Aurelio 6-28, Swithers 4-15, Marczuk 17-9. Brooks: Benson 3-12, Washington 6-11, Simon 1-4, Walker 2-3, Matthews 11-0,
PASSING: Kaneland: Marczuk 11-22-0-176. Brooks: Matthews 20-32-0-267, Simon 0-1-0-0
RECEIVING: Kaneland: Fedderly 6-67, Paulson 2-65, Groen 2-39, Harner 1-5. Brooks: Cobb 8-163, Walker 10-64, Patterson 1-31, Waahington 1-9
TOTAL OFFENSE: Kaneland 228, Brooks 265