CASEY, ILL. —
Casey and Carlinville traded touchdowns and extra points in four quarters of Illinois Class 2A playoff football action Saturday before the Warriors converted a two-point conversion in overtime to end matters on a cold, overcast day at Sinclair-Vidoni Field.
Casey’s 50-49 victory earned the 11-0 Warriors a spot in the Elite Eight on the road against 8-3 Belleville Althoff Catholic at a time to be determined, probably next Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors scored first and last in the contest and came close to winning in regulation but Carlinville set up the extra session with an interception in the end zone in the final minute of the fourth frame.
The Cavaliers had first possession in overtime and scored on Brendan Stewart’s 8-yard run with Barry Stewart kicking the extra point.
Casey needed one play to score on a 10-yard run by junior quarterback Nicco Stepina. The Warriors called time and lined up for the 2-point conversion with Joshua Blome catching Stepina’s pass for the game-winner.
“That was a great team . . . those running backs [Brendan Stewart and Cory Farneti] and the offensive line were awesome. I thought we slowed them down for awhile,” said Casey coach Jim Sullivan.
“I didn’t think it would be 50-49 [but] I thought the scores would be in the 30s. I’m just glad I have such good coaches. Stepina is a first-year quarterback and played well . . . Blome is the smartest player on the team,” he said.
Blome had a good day. He rushed for 107 yards on just six carries, caught three passes for 57 yards, had an interception and returned a kickoff 41 yards to set up the second touchdown. And caught the game-winning pass.
“I have great teammates and great coaches,” Blome said after the game. He said he probably would attend Rose-Hulman but isn’t sure he will play football in college.
Ajave Meeks had 108 yards rushing and scored four touchdowns on runs of 38, 28 and 24 yards and on a 30-yard pass from Stepina in addition to setting up another score with a 55-yard kickoff return.
Dalton Livvix rushed for 76 yards and scored Casey’s first touchdown while Stepina rushed for 65 yards and completed seven passes for 134 yards, two touchdowns and the game-winning two-point conversion.
Brendan Stewart scored six times and netted 258 yards rushing. Farneti had 178 yards rushing and Tucker Clinton gained 42 on 12 carries.
Stepina had a 16-yard run and hooked up with Blome for a 28-yard pass play in Casey’s first scoring drive and Blome ended Carlinville’s first possession with his interception.
Carlinville returned the favor with Kyle Kleeman halting Casey’s second drive with an interception and the Cavaliers went 42 yards to gain the first tie of the game.
After Carlinville took a 14-7 lead, the Warriors responded with their second score set up by Blome’s return.
Meeks’ 38-yard run put Casey in Carlinville territory as the Warriors gained a 21-21 tie and that was the score at halftime.
The Cavaliers had the football to open the second half and their only punt of the game ended that drive but they got the football back on a Casey fumble and went up 28-21 on Stewart’s 22-yard run.
The Warriors needed just three plays to score again on Meeks’ 24-yard run following his 55-yard kickoff return.
Casey had good field position after Carlinville failed to convert on a fourth-down play and Stipani’s pass to Zach Murphy put the host team ahead 42-35.
Carlinville went 65 yards for its last touchdown in regulation to set up the final heroics.
Casey now has won nine straight second-round games in playoff action and improved to 14-6 in Sweet Sixteen contests.
Carlinville concluded a 9-2 season with its only loss coming against Pana, a Class 3A team, in the fourth week of the season. Carlinville was ranked 12th in the final 2A poll and Casey was second.
Casey 50, Carloinville 49
Carlinville 7 14 14 7 7 — 49
Casey 7 14 14 7 8 — 50
Cas -- Livvix 10 run (Burnett kick) 10:22 1Q
Car-- Brendan Stewart 35 run (Barry Stewart kick) 3:36 1Q
Car-- Kleeman 30 pass from Easterday (Ba Stewart kick) 11:14 2Q
Cas -- Meeks 38 run (Burnett kick) 9:46 2Q
Car -- Br Stewart 4 run (Ba Stewart kick) 4:16 2Q
Car -- Br Stewart 24 run (Ba Stewart kick) 9:00 3Q
Cas -- Meeks 24 run (Burnett kick) 7:32 3Q
Cas-- Meeks 30 pass from Stepina (Burnett kick) 1:213Q
Car -- Br Stewart 56 run (Ba Stewart kick) 24.2 3Q
Cas -- Murphy 10 pass from Stepina (Burnett kick) 8:49 4Q
Car-- Br Stewart 10 run (Ba Stewart kick) 4:52 4Q
Car-- Br Stewart 8 run (Ba Stewart kick) OT
Cas -- Stepina 10 run (Stepina-Blome pass) OT
First downs 17 19
Rushes-yards 64-477 36-356
Passing yards 42 134
Comp-Att-Int 2-11-1 7-14-2
Return yards 19 1
Punts-Avg. 1-37 1-52
Fumbles-lost 3-1 3-2
Penalties-yards 6-45 8-64
Rushing – Carlinville, Brendan Stewart 23-258, Farneti 28-178, Clinton 12-42, Easterday 1-(-1). Casey, Meeks 9-108, Livvix15-76, Stepina 8-65, Blome 4-107.
Passing – Carlinville, Easterday 2-11-1-42. Casey, Stepina 7-14-2-134.
Receiving – Carlinville, Kleeman 2-42. Casey, Blome 3-57, Meeks 2-42, Murphy 1-10, Wilson 1-25.
Next — Casey (11-0) will be at Belleville Althoff Catholic (8-3) for a third-round Class 2A playoff game. Carlinville finished 9-2.