The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Harrisburg breezes by Alton-Marquette 41-7

  • Bulldogs rack up 355 yards on offense; Defense once again dominating in 4A quarterfinal victory
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  • Since 2000, the Baha Men have been asking the world one question: Who Let The Dogs Out?
    You can now add Alton-Marquette to that list of perplexed inquirers.
    The Explorers, who came into Saturday's quarterfinal action against Harrisburg, having scored no less than 42 points only twice this season were graciously greeted to the dog pound where they were stuffed, stopped and virtually succumbed to a 41-7 beat down by the Bulldogs at Taylor Field.
    In another reference to 2000, Harrisburg now has a date in the semifinals for just the sixth time in school history, the last coming 12 years ago when the 'Dogs won the IHSA Class 3A Championship.
    The Explorers did a lot of searching Saturday, coming away with little, as Harrisburg's defense was stout.
    The Bulldogs recovered two fumbles and got an interception as they posted a shutout going into the fourth quarter.
    Despite a couple of big plays produced by Alton-Marquette, the Bulldogs' defense stepped up to the challenge, stopping the spread offense of the Explorers and holding them to just nine first downs in the game.
    "I thought we played great defensively," said Harrisburg head coach Jason Roper. "I thought our kids did a really nice job with our scheme and what we wanted to do. I can't say enough about the way our defense is playing right now. Again, they were outstanding today, as was our special teams and our offense acted as a good defense at times."
    For the game, Alton-Marquette finished with just 202 yards on 57 plays, while Harrisburg racked up 239 on the ground alone.
    Justin Younger had a breakout game, touching the ball six times for 109 yards on the ground and scoring two touchdowns. The senior also caught two passes for 55 yards, including a score.
    Younger said Saturday's win wasn't about preparation put in during the week, but what the Bulldogs started during this past summer.
    "Hard work pays off," Younger said. "We're really excited about this and we've worked hard all year. Our coaches, our players, everyone put in a lot of time this summer."
    Younger accounted for the Bulldogs' first score as he raced out to a 52-yard touchdown run with 5:34 to play.
    After a Tyler Owens' fumble recovery in the second quarter, Ryne Roper hooked up with Capel Henshaw on an 8-yard screen pass to put Harrisburg up 14-0.
    Jason Roper acknowledged Harrisburg's passing offense that finished with 149 yards as Ryne Roper went 7-of-13.
    "There were some times there when we needed a big play," he said. "We ran some screen plays out of our spread offense and some play action out of our tights package. Our receivers did a nice job of catching the football and making something happen after that. Those are big plays for us - those third-and-long situations that we were able to convert - I thought were key."
    Page 2 of 3 - Henshaw finished with 61 yards on four catches and Daniel Lewis had a catch for 33 yards.
    Coming out of the break - with the ball - Harrisburg went to work, cutting nearly four minutes off the clock as Younger scored his second rushing TD of the day from eight yards out with 8:09 to play.
    The exclamation point for the Bulldogs came nearly four minutes later when Dylan Hathaway scored from a yard out. The score came compliments of another Alton-Marquette fumble, recovered by Gabe Oglesby as Hathaway scored his 21st touchdown of the year.
    To score after halftime was a point of emphasis for Roper and Younger helped confirm the head coaches sentiments.
    "Even though we were up 14, we knew we couldn't stop," Younger said. "These guys are explosive, they can score quick. We knew we had to come out and play the second half how we played the first half and I felt like we did that."
    "Alton-Marquette has scored a lot of points all year, they're very fast and a very explosive team," Roper added. "Again, I felt like our defense did a good job of containing them all day for the most part. I thought our kids tackled really well today, which is something we have been working on all year and have continued to show improvement."
    Harrisburg is now in the final four in class 4A since 2000 and will play the winner of Rochester or Peoria Notre Dame next Saturday on the road.
    Dakota Upchurch, who had a pair of sacks on the day, said that this group of Harrisburg players is a special one.
    "This win means a lot, it really does," Upchurch said. "We were able to get one last win on Taylor Field and we worked really hard to get to where we're at. For us on defense, it's as simple as keeping your head up, keep pushing and work as hard as you can on every play. We can't ever take a break."
    Michael Dann can be reached at hbgsports@dailyregister.com. Follow him on twitter: @spydieshooter.
    Harrisburg 07 07 21 06 - 41
    Alton-Marquette 00 00 00 07 - 07
    Scoring Summary
    Fist Quarter
    HBG - Younger 52 run (Roper kick), 5:34
    Second Quarter
    HBG - Henshaw 8 pass from Roper (Roper kick),
    Third Quarter
    HBG - Younger 8 run (Roper kick), 8:09
    HBG - Hathaway 1 run (Roper kick), 4:06
    HBG - Roper 13 run (Roper kick), 15.9
    Fourth Quarter
    AM - Ford 35 run (Hoefert kick), 6:32
    HBG - Younger 41 pass from Roper (kick failed), 3:04
    HBG AM
    First Downs 15 9
    Total Yards 388 202
    Rushes-Yards 42-239 45-147
    Passing 149 55
    Comp-Att-Int 7-13-0 4-12-1
    Penalties 11-75 4-35
    Page 3 of 3 - Fumbles-Lost 1 2
    Individual Statistics
    RUSHING: HBG - Hathaway 21-95, Younger 6-109, Roper 4-9, Lewis 5-14, Buchanan 1-5, Bebout 1-1, Perkins 2-6, Henshaw 2-0. AM - Younger6-(-8), Hamilton 6-24, Kiser 14-40, Miller 5-(-11), Ford 14-102.
    PASSING: HBG - Roper 7-13-0. AM - Miller 2-10-1, Young 2-2-0.
    RECEIVING: Younger 2-55, Henshaw 4-61, Lewis 1-33. AM - Hamilton 2-50, Ford 2-5.
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