CASEY, ILL. —
Casey dominated its opening Class 2A footballl playoff game Saturday afternoon, defeating Carmi 45-0 in sunny, chilly and windy conditions.
To say that the Warriors set the tempo early is almost an understatement.
They needed just four plays to score the first three touchdowns, leading 21-0 with 5 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first period at Sinclair-Vidoni Field.
They were up 42-0 at halftime, allowing for a running clock with the Casey starters watching from the sidelines.
The victory earned the No.3-seeded Warriors another home this Saturday against No. 6 seed Carlinville which bested Arthur 46-12.
Carmi went three-and-out on its first possession and a poor punt enabled Casey to start its first possession on the Carmi 27-yard line.
Junior quarterback Nicco Stepina got loose for 22-yard scoring run on the second play and Jesse Burnett kicked the first of seven extra points to put Casey up 7-0.
Stepina hooked up with Anthony Wilson for 53-yard pass play on the Warriors’ first play of their second possession and they were up 14-0 with 7:19 still left in the first canto.
Carmi went for a fourth down on its next possession and failed, giving Casey the football on the Carmi 35-yard line. Ajave Meeks burst loose on the first play of the possession and the host team led 21-0 with 5:52 left in the period.
Casey needed five plays to score its final touchdown of the opening period with Stepina finding Zack Murphy open for a 30-yard scoring play.
Murphy’s pass interception set up the next Casey drive with Dalton Livvix capping a seven-play drive with a 3-yard run.
The Warriors failed to score on their sixth possesion, driving to the Carmi 25, but another pass interception -- this one by Mack Disch --set up Casey’s final touchdown with Stepina going 2 yards for the score to cap a six-play drive.
Burnett kicked a 21-yard field goal to account for the only second-half points with a running clock in effect the entire time.
Casey had a 302-83 edge in total offense in the first half. Meeks rushed for 78 yards on seven carries and Livvix netted 73 on 10 totes while Stepina completed his first three passes for 101 yards.
Jim Sullivan was pleased following his first playoff game as coach of the Warriors.
“We talked about getting ahead early. These players work harder than any team I have seen. We work them hard, run a lot and today was the result of that work,” he said.
“We didn’t expect [the early lead]. I think Carmi got a little shell-shocked. We are pretty good at stopping the run and we knew they weren’t going anywhere if they tried to do that,” said Sullivan.
Senior Matt McCown is a leader on the Casey defense that allowed just 8.4 points per game in the regular season at linebacker and has been starting at that slot and at offensive tackle since his sophomore year.
“I like defense the best,” he said and intends to play college football. “I’ve narrowed it down to Indiana State and Illinois State,” said McCown.
Casey has qualified for the playoffs 12 straight years and also met Carmi two years ago, winning 36-16.
Casey 45, Carmi 0
Carmi 0 0 0 0 — 0
Casey 28 14 3 0 — 45
Casey — Stepina 22 run (Burnett kick), 9:23 1Q
Casey — Wilson 53 pass from Stepina (Burnett kick), 7:19 1Q
Casey— Meeks 35 run (Burnett kick), 5:51 1Q
Casey — Murphy 30 pass from Stepina (Burnett kick), 1:52 1Q
Casey — Livvix 3 run (Burnett kick), 11:02 2Q
Casey — Stepina 2 run (Burnett kick), 9:32 2Q
Casey — FG Burnett 21, 45.5 3Q
First downs 6 15
Rushes-yards 38-103 41-266
Passing yards 29 101
Comp-Att-Int 3-9-2 3-5-0
Return yards 0 57
Punts-avg 3-29.6 0-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-23 3-35
Rushing — Carmi, Rankin 26-66, Farr 5-25, Matsel 5-7, Dillman 2-5. Casey, Livvix 10-73, Stepina 6-43, Meeks 7-78, Blome 2-17, Weger 7-36, Disch 2-3, Massey 3-7, Lucas 1-4, Currey 1-1, Williams 2-4.
Passing — Carmi, Farr 3-9-2 29. Casey, Stepina 3-5-0 101.
Receiving — Carmi, Matsel 2-24, Weller 1-5. Casey, Wilson 1-53, Murphy 1-30, Keigley 1-18.
Next — Casey (10-0) will meet Carlinville at Casey at 2 p.m. next Saturday in Class 2A playoff action. Carmi finished 6-4.