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    Indians beat Murphysboro, earn home playoff game

    Doug Daniels
    Saturday, October 29, 2016

    Du Quoin will host a home playoff football game for the first time since 2012 after learning Saturday night that the Red Bud Musketeers (7-2) will visit Van Metre Field this coming Saturday for a 2:00 p.m. kickoff in the IHSA Class 2A Playoffs.
    The Indians improved to 7-2 overall and likely wrapped up that home game with Friday’s 41-21 victory at Murphysboro which featured several season-high performances from Du Quoin seniors in the final regular season game of their careers.
    First, there was the combination of quarterback Caleb Vogel and his tight end Devin Jones. The duo connected five times for three touchdowns with Vogel adding a fourth TD through the air to Jordan Edwards. Vogel completed 15-of-20 passes for 151 yards and 4 touchdowns - all season highs for the Du Quoin signal-caller.
    “We never gave up on (the passing game),” said DHS head coach A.J. Hill. “Early in the year we kind of struggled throwing the ball, allowed teams to focus on our run. Being able to mix it up like that, I can’t say enough about Caleb and his development over the course of the year. He came out and put the ball where we needed it to be, he’s done a great job. I’m proud of him, I’m proud of the team, and the guys out there catching it. We had some guys that had to step up and fill some roles, they did that well. Tonight we talked before the game, ‘hey let’s go get a team win,’ and that was a team victory right there.”
    Jones’ three touchdowns were also a season-high for the Indians’ Rob Gronkowski-like tight end, as were his four sacks on defense. He had eight tackles total and also served as Du Quoin’s punter in the game averaging 31 yards per kick.
    “It couldn’t have happened at a better time,” Hill said of Jones’ big night. “We’ve talked to him all year, just be patient, it’s going to come, there’s going to be a time when we can’t just run the ball every play and we’re going to have to rely on the passing game. Caleb feels confident throwing it out there to a big kid like Devin, and he wants the ball every play. He’s got a great set of hands, he gets himself open, and he makes the plays when they come his way. That’s just a credit to them staying patient. We’ve all kind of been waiting for that game where they have a little breakout, and tonight was it.”
    Then there was running back Zayne Fornear. Fornear continued his assault on the Indian record books by racking up a career-high 261 yards on 19 carries to bring his unofficial career total to 2,868 rushing yards (1,149 this season). While researching some of the Du Quoin football records can be a difficult task, this number is believed to be second all-time behind Jon Lanum’s total of 3,207 yards from 1996 to 1998.
    Fornear also added a pair of touchdowns, giving him 39 touchdowns for his career. He’s also scored eight times on two-point conversions, giving him 250 points in three seasons as a Du Quoin Indian. That ranks third all-time behind Indian legends Stan Clarry (299) and Don Stanhouse (282). It should be noted that those point totals do not include passing touchdowns or two-point conversion passes, only those scored rushing, receiving, on special teams, and on defense.
    Back to the team itself, the victory makes it six straight wins for the Indians after falling to 1-2 with a one-point loss to Herrin in week three.
    “After those two losses in a row, two tough losses, games we felt like we could have played better and capitalized on some things and won, for them to respond with six straight wins it means a lot,” said Hill. “We’ve got a great group of seniors who have kind of kept them on the path and not let them lose focus. We’re playing pretty good right now going into the playoffs, and you’ve got to feel good about that as a coach. We’re kind of clicking on all cylinders. Our defense has just gradually gotten better, and we keep getting better at what we do. That makes you feel good as a coach.”
    Friday’s game against the Murphysboro-Elverado co-op didn’t start off well for Du Quoin, as Brandon Graeff took the game’s opening kickoff all the way to the house for a 7-0 Red Devils lead.
    Du Quoin was flagged five yards for motion on first down of their possession after that score, but it didn’t stop them from going 83 yards and capping off the scoring drive with an 11-yard pass from Vogel to Edwards. Kameron Johnson’s extra point tied the game up with 7:06 to go in the first quarter.
    The Devils achieved one first down on their next drive before punting it away, and on second down and nine from Du Quoin’s 30, Fornear blasted off for a 70-yard touchdown run with 3:20 on the clock to put the Indians on top 14-7.
    Murphysboro stuck around with a 44-yard TD run by Brandon Caldwell with 7:04 left in the first half, but Du Quoin responded. Fornear picked up a first down in Red Devil territory and in the process drew a late hit penalty flag to set up a first-and-ten at the Murphy 22. Five plays later, Vogel and Jones connected on their first touchdown from 8 yards out to extend their lead to 21-13 with 3:53 left in the second quarter, which would be the halftime score.
    After the break, the Indians received the kickoff and proceeded to do what they do best - run the football and chew up big chunks of game clock. Du Quoin ran 16 plays and drove 75 yards, going up two touchdowns when Vogel hit jones from 10 yards out on a fourth-and-one. The possession ate up nearly eight minutes of clock time.
    Murphysboro didn’t go quietly, scoring on another long touchdown run by Caldwell with 1:39 left in the period, this one from 42 yards out. The two-point pass from Gavin Topp to Caldwell made it 28-21 in favor of DHS.
    But the Devils just couldn’t stop the Indians’ offense. Fornear’s 11-yard touchdown run put the finishing touches on an 8-play, 73-yard scoring drive with 10:09 to play. Murphysboro drove deep into Indian territory on their next possession, but Jones came up with a big sack after a low snap on fourth-and-six from Du Quoin’s 15-yard line to force a turnover on downs.
    While admitting he saw some things that could be improved, Hill was pleased with how his defense played, holding the Red Devils to a 3-for-11 performance on third down conversions, and 1-for-4 on fourth down pick-ups.
    “I think the big challenge (Friday night) was to keep (Murphysboro) away from the edge, and you saw how dangerous they are with a couple runs when they got to the edge. Overall, I was happy with how our defense kind of contained their offense, because they’re explosive. They get you going side-to-side and then they hit you up the middle with the fullback, they do some different things with the way they align. It’s been a tough week just preparing for that offense and however many different looks they give you. Overall I think our defense did a good job of responding and bending but not breaking a lot of times, creating a few turnovers on downs. I think that was big for our offense.”
    Du Quoin’s offense turned around and went 77 yards on just five plays, most of the damage coming from Fornear’s legs. The exclamation point came with Jones’ third touchdown of the night, a 10-yard pass from Vogel with 3:05 to play.
    Jones finished with 5 catches for 51 yards, but it was Will Woodside who led the Indians in receiving with 5 catches for 55 yards. Edwards (4-38) and Anthony Spiller (1-7) also hauled in receptions. Spiller (6 carries, 28 yards), Vogel (2-12), Donovan Cole (2-6) and Donovan McBride (4-4) split the carries that didn’t go to Fornear.
    Elverado’s Noah Barnes finished with 51 yards on 8 carries for the Devils, getting some blocking help from, among others, Elverado’s Clayton Berger.
    **Editor’s note: Hudl.com statistics show Fornear for 175 yards on 10 carries against Nashville this year, but upon closer inspection it is believed he actually had 197 yards on 11 carries. Hudl.com season total stats also mistakenly count statistics from this season’s Carterville game twice. Statistics were retrieved from various sources such as hudl.com statistics, newspaper articles, Fred Huff’s 2009 book ‘Du Quoin High School Football History,’ and game films, and should be considered “unofficial.” If you feel an error has been made in the calculation of these statistics, please bring it to our attention. Sports editor Doug Daniels can be reached at perrycountysports@gmail.com.

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