ELMHURST – If the Aurora Christian football team decided to feel bad about itself, you couldn’t blame them. Down 11 starters, including quarterback Austin Bray, the Eagles had to throw together makeshift units on both sides of the ball while preparing for fellow 3A rival IC Catholic on Saturday afternoon.
On the Knights’ homecoming, Clark Brinkman took the opening kickoff 95 yards, breaking a couple tackles on the way to the end zone. Immaculate Conception would later score on plays of 74, 45 and 79 yards as the Knights rolled over the injury-riddled Eagles, 48-8.
After losing Bray and two-way players Noah Roberts and Jackson Carpenter last week, Aurora Christian (5-2, 3-2 Suburban Christian Conference Blue) was forced to be one-dimensional offensively, with running back Legend Smith carrying the ball 33 times.
The Eagles ran the ball 44 times in all as Immaculate Conception (4-3, 3-2) stacked the box with eight and nine-man fronts, putting added pressure on freshman quarterback Ben Weerts.
“Coming into a game like this against a good team, we really didn’t know what to expect,” Aurora Christian assistant coach David Beebe said. “That’s a really good football team and it shows how good 3A football is. To get this many injuries, something like this can happen.”
Eagles coach Don Beebe was unavailable for comment as he left for the Northern Illinois game later in afternoon.
Smith, who rushed for 155 yards, refused to use injuries as an excuse for his under-manned squad.
“I knew coming in that I would just have to do what I had to do even though we didn’t have a lot to work with,” Smith said. “It’s unfortunate [to have so many injuries], but again, we have to step up and do what we have to do.”
Meanwhile, Immaculate Conception cared little about the Eagles’ injury woes, instead focusing on narrow misses in the last two seasons against Aurora Christian.
“This meant a lot to us – we wanted this game bad,” Brinkman said. “We scheduled this game on homecoming for a reason. We wanted this one and it means a lot to our program.”
To go along with his kickoff return touchdown, Brinkman added a 74-yard touchdown catch to his day. The first quarter score, which came on a bubble screen, effectively put the game away as Aurora Christian’s offense had no response.
Without much time to prepare, Weerts struggled through the air, connecting on three pass attempts all afternoon – one of which went for a 9-yard touchdown to Eddie Valarde late in the fourth quarter – while throwing an interception.
“Going into the game, it’s a varsity game, so I was pretty nervous,” Weerts said. “I knew we were going to run a lot so coach told me just to make my throws and plays whenever I had a chance.”
Immaculate Conception took a 28-0 lead into halftime and later forced a running clock in the fourth quarter on the first of two big Jordan Rowell touchdown runs. Rowell finished with 143 yards on the ground with scores of 53 and 79 yards to help lead the rout.
Aurora Christian will hope to return several players from injury with area stalwart Montini visiting next week.
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION 48, AURORA CHRISTIAN 8
Immaculate Conception 14 14 7 13 – 48
Aurora Christian 0 0 0 8 – 8
HOW THEY SCORED
IC – Brinkman 95 kickoff return (kick blocked), 11:45
IC – Brinkman 74 pass from Copher (Copher run), 8:26
IC – Leslie 4 run (Copher kick), 3:19
IC – Leslie 45 run (Copher kick), 0:03
IC – Copher 5 run (Graham kick), 5:57
IC – Rowell 53 run (conversion failed), 9:58
AC – Velarde 9 pass from Weerts (Wiggins run), 6:31
IC – Rowell 79 run (Graham kick), 4:19
RUSHING – Aurora Christian: Smith 33-155, Bosek 3-11, Wiggins 3-5, Weerts 4 minus 10, Totals: 42-161. Immaculate Conception: Leslie 13-43, Copher 8-70, Rowell 10-143. Totals: 31-256.
PASSING – Aurora Christian: Weerts 3-14-1-14. Immaculate Conception: Copher: 5-6-119.
RECEIVING – Aurora Christian: Smith 1-1, Bosek 1-4, Velarde 1-9. Immaculate Conception: Brinkman 3-95, Rose 2-24.
TOTAL YARDS – Aurora Christian 175, Immaculate Conception 375