By Ronan O' Shea
HEYWORTH, Ill. – LeRoy (5-0, 4-0 Heart of Illinois) rallied for 28 first quarter points and cruised to a 40-6 Heart of Illinois Conference victory over Heyworth (0-5, 0-4 Heart of Illinois) Friday night. Leading 40-0 at halftime, the Panthers did not play any starters in the second half, which was played with a running clock.
“Our seniors came out and executed well,” head coach BJ Zeleznik said. “I am very pleased with our quarterback Nic Stevens and the decisions he made throwing the football. It was a good night for us.”
While LeRoy pounded over 200 yards on the ground, Stevens was effective in the air. The senior quarterback completed 4-of-5 passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns, including a 19-yard pass to Nick Aupperle in the closing seconds of the opening half.
On the ground, LeRoy rushed for nearly 300 yards, paced by senior running back Shane Bruning’s game-high 117 yards on six carries with two scores. Cory Eastham rushed for one touchdown and caught one more as LeRoy matched its win total from last season.
The Panthers needed just three plays to find the end zone on their opening drive. A 35-yard run from Austin Eddy put the ball inside the Heyworth 15 yard line. Two plays later, Eastham dove across the end zone for a score.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Panthers again found pay dirt on just three plays. Stevens’ 47-yard pass to Eastham capped a 65-yard drive, making it 14-0 LeRoy.
The Panthers would score on each of their next two possessions. Bruning needed just two plays to cover 44 yards, scoring on a 36-yard touchdown run before Stevens connected with Aupperle on a 15-yard touchdown toss in the corner of the end zone, making it 28-0 at the end of the first quarter.
LeRoy added a 50-yard touchdown run from Bruning before the pass to Aupperle made it 40-0 going into halftime.
Heyworth’s offense struggled in during heavy rains all night. Quaterback Kyle Schultz finished 2-for-5 for one yard. Sam Asmus provided the highlight of the night, breaking a 68-yard run to the two yard line to open the third quarter. He would score on a handoff on the next play, giving Heyworth their only touchdown of the night. Defensively, Heyworth forced three fumbles in defeat.
Friday marked the first meeting between the two Heart of Illinois schools since 2009. LeRoy returns home to host Blue Ridge next week, while Heyworth visits Gibson City.