By Paul Morello
LEROY – Battling soggy field conditions, the LeRoy Panthers rolled to a convincing 47-21 win over Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Friday night in a Heart of Illinois Conference matchup.
A 20-point third quarter sparked the undefeated Panthers to their third straight win overall and in the conference. LeRoy entered the game ranked ninth in Class 1A.
Nick Aupperle’s 85-yard kickoff return for a score opened the third quarter scoring for the Panthers.
Running back Austin Eddy also chipped in two of his three touchdown runs in the third quarter, the last of which gave the Panthers a 41-7 lead.
LeRoy exploited the Falcons’ (1-2) offensive line, racking up 356 yards rushing. Well-known rushers Eddy and Shane Bruning combined for 175 yards, but the lesser-known fullback, Cory Eastham, was the secret weapon. He ran for 98 yards and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a score in the second quarter.
“I thought he looked really good running the football,” coach B.J. Zeleznik said. ” We needed it. It was muggy, so Shane and Austin were getting a little winded and Cory picked it up.”
Despite two touchdowns by GCMS’ Lucas Hixson late in the fourth quarter, the Panthers’ defense gave an impressive performance, helping register five sacks.
It could have been six, but the Falcons’ only score in the first half came on a broken play in which quarterback Jesse Boma weaved through multiple tackles to hit Jordan Seymour for a 90-yard catch and run.
“We harped and harped on our defensive line to get pressure in practice this week,” Zeleznik said. “I thought off the edge we played fast, but I thought up the middle we were much more active tonight.”
Boma led the GCMS offensive effort, going 7 for 13 for 131 yards, even though much of that came on the 90-yard play.
The Panthers will travel to Gilman to meet Iroquois West next week in a non-conference game while GCMS plays host to Ridgeview.
LR – Austin Eddy 2-yd. run
LR – Cory Eastham blocked punt recovery in end zone
GCMS – Jordyn Schultz 90-yd. pass from Jesse Boma
LR – Nick Aupperle 30-yd. pass from Nic Stevens
LR – Nic Aupperle 85-yd. kickoff return
LR – Austin Eddy 1-yd. run
LR – Lane Lindstrom 52-yd. run
GCMS – Lucas Hixson 2-yd. run
GCMS – Lucas Hixson 5-yd run
Paul Morello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.