There was a tension in the air at Funderburg Stadium Friday night, dark like the surrounding clouds and threatening as the rain. With a new coach and half the school body attending a new school, even the band seemed subdued. The Bucs took the field against the Hononegah Indians and – despite a slow start – took control of the game and ended triumphant, 28 – 14 winners over the Indians.
The first quarter was all about field position. The Bucs kicked off to the Indians who returned it to their own 40 yard line. Early on, quarterback David King showed promise as the Hononegah’s leading rusher. An illegal procedure call on the Indians stopped them on third down and they punted it down to the Bucs 13 yard line. There was no return. Immediately, the Bucs were in trouble. A flag pushed them back into the single digit yards from their own end zone. On third and sixteen, Kyle Tevebaugh connected with Charles Chatman at the 22 yard line. Unfortunately the measurements showed it was short of a first down and the Bucs had to punt. Hononegah started on their own 38 and managed to push it into Belvidere territory before the Bucs defense stopped them near midfield. The Bucs started their next drive at their own 11 yard line and couldn’t make much headway. Their punt only made it to the Belvidere 47. Hononegah only needed a single pass to Michael Prosser to run it in for the first score of the night. With 4:18 left in the first quarter, the Indians went ahead 7 – 0.
The Bucs finally caught a break, returning the kick off to their own 40 yard line. Runs by Patrick O’Brien pushed the ball into Hononegah territory. On third down and five, Tevebaugh connected with Chatman near the 20 yard line. O’Brien smashed it into the end zone from three yards out. The point after was no good and the Bucs trailed 7 – 6 as time wound down in the first quarter.
The Indians fumbled on the kick off return, but kept possession. They put together a long drive primarily on the ground, but a pass to Jimmy Riley put them into Bucs territory. The Belvidere defense began to tighten up as the Indians got down to the 30 yard line. A pass to the end zone was broken up by Brock Greenhow. Hononegah battled their way to the 20, but a delay of game penalty brought them back to the 25. David King kept the ball himself and scrambled down to the 13 before being stopped by Nate Culvey; close, but not close enough. On fourth down and two, the Indians went for broke, passing into the end zone. The pass was too long however, caught past the end zone. The Bucs dodged a bullet and took over on downs. Two runs by Patrick O’Brien gave Belvidere some breathing room, getting out to their own 44 yard line. Another O’Brien run took them into Hononegah territory. Kyle Tevebaugh took to the air, connecting with Charles Chatman again. Another set of Patrick O’Brien runs and the Bucs were sitting on the six yard line when they fumbled the ball. The Indians came up with it and dodged a bullet of their own as the first half came to a close.
Belvidere fumbled on their opening drive of the second half and Hononegah – once again – came up with the ball and started their first drive of the third quarter on the Bucs’ 43 yard line. Three minutes later, King on a quarterback keeper ran into the end zone from six yards out. The kick was good and the Indians were up 14 – 6.
A short kick off following a Hononegah penalty gave the Bucs the ball on their own 40 yard line. They wasted no time. On first down from the Indians 45 yard line, Kyle Tevebaugh found Chatman again. He made the catch and jogged into the end zone for a touchdown. The Bucs tried a two point conversion, Chatman making the catch in the corner to tie the game at 14 all. The Bucs defense came to life, holding Hononegah down at their own 24 yard line. On third and ten, Travis Weinsheim read the play and downed King before he had a chance to do any damage. The Indians were forced to punt from their own 18. The ball only made it out to the Indians’ 37 and Belvidere took advantage of the short field with runs by Phil Czechowicz and Chris Gust to get them into scoring position. Patrick O’Brien pushed it in from the 1 yard line and the Bucs went ahead 21 – 14.
The rain that had threatened all evening began coming down in earnest at the start of the fourth quarter. Both sides took some getting used to the sloppy conditions. Hononegah fumbled the ball on fourth down at the Bucs 18 yard line. While they did recover, it was short and the Bucs took over on downs. Going the other direction, Belvidere coughed it up on the Indians’ 40 yard line and Hononegah came up with it. The Bucs defense made sure they couldn’t do much with it and Hononegah was forced to punt.
The Bucs took over on their own 8 yard line, with rain pouring down and the wind blowing strong from the west. Despite the conditions, Tevebaugh lobbed a long pass to Charles Chatman who dashed down the field 57 yards for a touchdown. The kick after was good and the Bucs had a 28 – 14 lead with 2:28 left in the game. All night long, whenever there was a loose ball, the Indians managed to end up with possession. On second down and five, David King went back to pass and Bryce Trevino picked it off, ending any chance of a Hononegah comeback. The crowd – quiet through much of the game – stayed in the rain to cheer on their team as they celebrated their first victory under new coach Matt Weckler.
Belvidere is hoping to host the Harlem Huskies for their first game of the season. The teachers in Machesney Park were reviewing a new contract offer at press time. The Huskies already forfeited their first game to Belvidere North. If the strike is postponed, Harlem will travel to Belvidere and the game will start at 7:15.