KEWANEE — With all it accomplished during the regular season, Annawan-Wethersfield's formidable defensive unit had yet to have one of its own light up the scoreboard.
In Saturday afternoon's Class 1A first-round football playoff matchup with Lewistown, that changed. Titan senior linebacker Drake VanHyfte, the team's top tackler, scooped up a fumble and returned it 16 yards to paydirt with 3:58 left until halftime.
VanHyfte's touchdown provided the perfect touch to a dominating day on both sides of the line for the 10-0 and top-seeded Titans, who rolled to a 52-0 victory at Wethersfield Memorial Stadium to set up next weekend's second-round showdown with reigning 1A state champion Forreston (8-2).
VanHyfte's score was part of an effort in which Annawan-Wethersfield held the 16th-seeded Indians (5-5) to 67 total yards and seven first downs as the Titans recorded their fifth shutout.
While the Titans were keeping Lewistown's offense in check, A-W scored on its first three possessions of the game.
Mercer County 41, Chicago Christian 0: Mercer County displayed an explosive running game and defensive dominance in shutting out Chicago Christian (Palos Heights) at George Pratt Memorial Field in Aledo.
The Golden Eagles picked up their first home playoff win since 2014 in rolling to a 41-0 win.
The Golden Eagles advanced to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs with a record of 7-3, and will face undefeated Clifton Central on the road next week.
— Tom Schroeder, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kewanee 50, Chicago Agriculture Science 0: Josh Nimrick ran for two scores and Tristan Parks scored on both a kick return and a fumble recovery as Kewanee rolled to an opening round win in the Class 4A playoffs Saturday.
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Next up for Kewanee (7-3) is a trip to top-seeded and unbeaten Coal City.
Keyontiss Patterson led the Boilermakers with 70 yards rushing on four carries, including a 54-yard touchdown run. Tayvian Taylor added 59 yards and a touchdown.
In total Kewanee ran for 199 yards and held Agriculture Science to 31. Kewanee held the Chicago school to 66 total yards on 43 plays.
Sterling Newman 28, Orion 13: Just weeks after Sterling Newman’s offense put together a long second-half drive to deny Orion’s offense chances to get going in a Three Rivers Conference game, the first round of the Class 2A playoffs played out like a rerun.
Orion went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half Saturday at Roscoe Eades Stadium, then threw an interception on the second drive. Newman responded with two scoring drives to keep the potent Chargers offense off the field in a 28-13 Comets’ win in the playoff opener.
From the kickoff to open the third quarter through the midway point of the fourth quarter, Orion ran a total of five offensive plays. Meanwhile Newman ran a 14-play 76-yard drive for one score, an eight-play drive ending in a punt, and a five-play drive resulting in another touchdown.
— Eric Ingles, Sauk Valley Media
Freeport Aquin 55, Fulton 38: Ethan Rash and Kyler Pessman each ran for two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough as Fulton fell to Aquin in its first-round Class 1A playoff game.
Fulton trailed 28-8 midway through the second quarter and the Steamers could never climb back within one score as the teams traded touchdowns the rest of the game.
Aquin stays unbeaten on the season at 10-0. Fulton ends its year at 5-5.