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Mooseheart receiver J.J. Odunsi (No. 10) ignores defensive pressure from Stark County's Brandon Lee and catches one of his team's two touchdown passes in the Ramblers 52-14 defeat by the Rebels in the second round of the IHSA Class 1A playoffs.
Mooseheard defenders J.J. Odunsi (No. 10) and Sahr Mahoney attempt to bring down Stark County ball carrier Colton Senders in the first half of Saturday's IHSA Class 1A playoff game. Senders rushed for 122 yards in his team's 52-14 victory.
Mooseheart quarterback Jon Hart prepares to throw one of a season-high 47 passes in his team's 52-14 loss to Stark County while the Rebels' Corbin Turnbull closes. Hart completed 22 passes for 233 yards and 2 TDs but was intercepted 6 times.
Mooseheart's Chris Villaruel runs after catching one of his 8 receptions in Saturday's loss to Stark County.
MOOSEHEART, IL Nov. 3 - Sometimes, deficits get too large to overcome and no manner of attempts to remedy the situation is going to change that.
And that is, for the most part, what happened to Mooseheart's football team in its 52-14 IHSA Class 1A second round playoff defeat to Stark County. The Ramblers (9-2) battled and never stopped trying to put points on the scoreboard. But a 28-0 halftime deficit that grew to 35-0 on the second half kickoff proved to be too much for the hosts to overcome.
"Obviously it didn't turn out the way we expected," Mooseheart coach Gary Urwiler said. "That's a very good Stark County team. I wish them all the best. Unfortunately, we didn't play our best football tonight."
The game marked the third time in program history - and the second occasion in as many years - that the Ramblers had advanced to the second round of the playoffs without advancing to the quarterfinals.
"It's disheartening," Urwiler said. "We're really trying hard to get past this second round and to get the confidence in our guys. And it just didn't happen."
Stark County (9-2) rolled up 438 total yards, 312 of those on the ground. Both quarterback Justin Kohler (102 yards) and fullback Colton Senders (122 yards) crossed the 100-yard mark in rushing.
Kohler was also sharp on the few occasions the Rebels threw, completing 8-of-9 passes for 98 yards. The only incompletion came on a fake punt attempt.
Mooseheart struggled to gain rushing yardage. Senior Oumaru Abdulahi ran only twice before leaving with a recurrence of a foot injury. Sahr Mahoney gained 41 yards on 6 carries and was the team's leading rusher.
That left the burden of moving the ball on quarterback Jonathon Hart's right arm. Hart threw 47 times and completed 22 for 233 yards and both Mooseheart touchdowns. Hart was also intercepted 6 times in the contest.
"I don't think we played well at all, in every facet," Urwiler said. "I don't know why, but the tempo wasn't there. I don't necessarily think it was something that they were doing."
Despite the disparity in the final score, the Ramblers were only behind 7-0 after the first quarter - the only touchdown coming on a 34-yard Kohler run. The Rebels opened their large halftime margin thanks to three second quarter TDs - a 5-yard pass from Kohler to Bryce Willis, a 1-yard Kohler plunge and a 9-yard pass from Kohler to Senders.
"Defensively early, to be down 7-0 after one quarter, I thought we were in a heck of a spot," Urwiler said. "The defense was playing well. I felt we dodged some bullets. But we just could not win the field position battle."
Stark County put the game effectively beyond reach when Danny Berchtold returned the second half kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. Mooseheart scored on TD passes from Hart to J.J. Odunsi and Mahoney - but the lead never dipped below 24 points the rest of the contest.
Injuries played their part in Mooseheart's execution of its game plan. In addition to Abdulahi, Mahoney hadn't practiced until Friday for Saturday's game, U-Jay Smith had a badly sprained ankle, and Odunsi was similarly playing with an injury. To add to the injuries, center-linebacker Chris Gustafson had the flu all week.
That opened some opportunities for other players - and Chris Villaruel responded by catching 8 passes for 74 yards.
"I thought Chris Villaruel played probably one of his best games receiving," Urwiler said. "He made some nice catches today."
Mooseheart graduates a core of seniors who saw considerable playing time, including Hart, Abdulahi, Mahoney, Gustafson, Smith and Villaruel.
"They're great guys who played a lot of football for us," Urwiler said. "(Abdulahi) was a four-year starter. Chris Gustafson, Jon Hart, Sahr Mahoney - these guys played three years for us. And Chris Villaruel. You know what, Peter Mator is very undersized who played every year at JV for us. This year, he's a senior and he played really well for us this year. Those guys are really going to be missed."
Stark County 7 21 10 14 - 52
Mooseheart 0 0 7 7 - 14
SC-Kohler 34 run (Ravaioli kick)
SC-Willis 5 pass from Kohler (Ravaioli kick)
SC-Kohler 1 run (Ravaioli kick)
SC-Senders 9 pass from Kohler (Ravaioli kick)
SC-D. Berchtold 86 kickoff return (Ravaioli kick)
MH-Odunsi 6 pass from Hart (Mahoney kick)
SC-Ravaioli 30 field goal
MH-Mahoney 42 pass from Hart (Mahoney kick)
SC-D. Berchtold 26 pass from Daum (Ravaioli kick)
SC-Daum 1 run (Ravaioli kick)
First Downs 17 13
Rushes-yards 51-312 17-41
Passes 10-11-0 22-47-6
Passing yards 126 233
Total yards 438 274
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Punts-avg. 2-29.0 3-33.0
Penalties 5-31 5-33
Stark County: Kohler 12-102, D. Berchtold 6-34, Senders 23-122, Daum 3-45, Hannan 5-13, Wisnefski 2-(-4).
Mooseheart: Hart 1-(-8), Mator 3-(-1), Odunsi 2-(-2), Abdulahi 2-4, Feemorlu 3-7, Mahoney 6-41.
Stark County: Kohler 8-9-0 98, Daum 2-2-0 28, Wisnefski 0-0-0 0.
Mooseheart: Hart 22-47-6 233.
Stark County Willis 3-68, D. Berchtold 1-26, J. Berchtold 1-3, Senders 3-21, Lee 2-8.
Mooseheart: Mator 3-20, Odunsi 8-73, Mahoney 3-66, Villaruel 8-74.
Stark County: Kohler 2-58.
Mooseheart: Mahoney 3-99.
Stark County: Hollis 2, Senders 1, D. Berchtold 1, Willis 1, Ingels 1.