By Chris Johnson

Sports Correspondent

The Winnebago Indians got a much needed win Friday night, Sept. 9, 49-39, helping them keep pace with the Byron Tigers, Dixon Dukes and this week’s opponent Genoa-Kingston, in the battle for Big Northern supremacy. With a 2-1 mark, the Indians have the chance to begin providing greater influence on who gets to hoist the newly formed Big Northern Conference crown, following its first year of inception.

Mendota would surge late in its Friday night battle, scoring 18 points, but would not be able to recover from the lead thrown at them by the host Indians.

Indians quarterback Jess Smith started the scoring as he connected with Ty Waller at the 6:55 point in the opening period. A little over three minutes later, Bryson Prusator fumbled for Mendota and Justin Whitehouse recovered. Fifty-yards later, Winnebago’s lead had grown.

After keeping the Trojans offense quiet through the first twelve minutes of play the Indians carried a 13-0 edge into the second quarter. Mendota would then strike with a little over one minute elapsed in the second quarter, as running back Collin Anderson ran through his line and scored from the Winnebago seven. The extra point kick made it a 13-7 game.

After a quick exchange, the Trojans got the ball back and with 8:20 to go in the second quarter, tail back Joe LaShone ran away from tacklers and carried it 33 yards for the score. The extra point kick was no good as the scored was knotted at 13.

After the ensuing kickoff and one play into the next offensive series, Indians’ running back Jared Roberts ran free for 62 yards. The two-point conversion run by Smith was good, the Indians were up by eight, 21-13.

Neither team would score again until just under 1:15 to go in the half. LaShone found space and a hook-up was made, when receiver Paxton Kennedy came running free for Mendota. The connection netted a 46-yard touchdown. With 1:18 to go in the half, the game was tied at 21.

On the following kick-off the big play surfaced for the third time in the half. Wide receiver, defensive back and return specialist Kenzell Jones broke a tackle after crossing the 20 and busted free for an 81 yard return. The touchdown was good, but the two-point conversion was not. With 1:04 to go in the period, Winnebago was back in front 27-21.

The Indians defense stepped up and made the stop, and the offense earned another shot to attempt to make it a two-score affair.

Mendota penalties gave the Indians the ball deep in Mendota territory. After a final time out was called, Austin Leitzinger’s 31-yard kick gave Winnebago the nine-point lead, 30-21, at the half.

Similar to what they had done in the first quarter of play, the Indians’ defense clamped down in the third and kept the Trojans away from the end zone. The Winnebago offense kept finding ways to score. After three quarters of play, Winnebago was in front 43-21.

Substitutions were made by Winnebago and adjustments matched by Mendota, as the fourth quarter unfolded. Winnebago added one more score to its total, pushing its tally to 49.

Winnebago paid attention at the line. They won individual battles. They stood strong and used a balanced running attack. Jared Roberts led the way with 91 yards on the ground. Austin Leitzinger added 90 of his own. Mendota star Joe LaShone finished his evening with three yards shy of 200 yards on the ground.

Winnebago quarterback Jess Smith finished his evening with 9-of-16 passing for 108 yards and a touchdown. Kenzell Jones collected six passes for 71 yards, and Ty Waller reeled one in from 13 yards away for a score. Grant Watson and Tanner Inglima also were involved offensively for Winnebago.

This Friday night, Sept. 16, the Indians travel to take on the Genoa-Kingston Cogs. The Indians trail the Cogs, the Dixon Dukes and the Byron Tigers by one game in the Big Northern Conference.

The road swing continues for Winnebago Friday, Sept. 23, as the Indians play at Oregon. Winnebago returns home for a Friday night date with Rock Falls to close out September.


Indian quarterback Jess Smith stretches his body out to just get the football across the goal line to score two points after a ‘Bago touchdown against Mendota on Friday, Sept. 9. DOUG SCHRODER PHOTO The Gazette

Buy Viagra Overnight Delivery USA.