ARTHUR — After a scoreless first half, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond scored 23 points in the second half and the defense held Villa Grove/Heritage scoreless. The Knights' 23-0 win gave them their sixth win and assured them of a Class 1A playoff spot.
ALAH's players ran into the stands to celebrate their first playoff appearance since 2014.
The Knights started the second half with a 52-yard kickoff return by Ben Carroll. Freshman Kaden Feagin picked up a gain of 18. Finn Davison scored on the next play, a 10-yard run. Aaron Likens booted the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The Knights drove from their own 42 down to the Villa Grove 15 when Likens made a 32-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.
Davison also made a key defensive play by catching Villa Grove's Carson Howard after he caught a pass in the open. He also knocked a pass away on the same drive on a fourth and 12 from the ALAH 38.
The Knights scored on three of their first four possessions in the second half. The next drive started on its own 47 and the touchdown was scored by Carroll on a 12-yard run. Likens made the point after for a 17-0 lead.
The first quarter saw four turnovers with both teams recovering a fumble and getting an interception. Villa Grove had the best chance to score in the first half, but they missed a 26-yard field goal with 18 seconds left in the half on a fourth and nine from the Arthur nine.
The Blue Devils marched from their own 36 to the 11. The first big play was a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Arthur. It was one of eight penalties on the Knights (60 yards) in the half. Villa Grove's ground game got going next as Kehm Shirley gained 21 yards in two plays and quarterback Blake Smith picked up 11 . A holding call on Villa Grove pushed them back 10 yards before Shirley got 16 of it back on a run. ALAH's Finn Davison came up with a big play sacking the quarterback for a loss of five. after an incomplete pass Villa Grove coach Heath Wilson elected to have Dealin Price attempt fhei field goal, which was long enough, but wide to the left.
Villa Grove is looking for its third straight playoff appearance, all in Class 2A.
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The playoff pairings show will start at 8 p.m. on WCIX, channel 49 Saturday.
Three keys of the game
1) the A-L-A-H pass defense was tested and at one point caused the Blue Devils to throw seven incomplete passes in a row i the third quarter. The defense intercepted two passes, inincluding one llate in the game on the one to preserve the shutout.
2) The Knights offense got going in the second half and overcame penalties in the game with scoring drives of 70, 53 ane 37 yards as Feagin, Billy Fifer, Davson and Carroll gave plenty of different looks.
3) Brady Borntereger did complete a 29-yard pass to Jamison Rocke for a big first down on the field goal drive.