By Chris Johnson

Sports Correspondent

With a 64-21 win over Rockford Christian in week eight in the books, the Byron Tigers moved to 8-0 on the season and appear to have secured the honor of being home when the Class 3A State Football Playoffs begin in less than two weeks.

Byron’s attack was relentless. The running game was dominant. Rockford Christian could not contain the Byron offense. Kicker Trevor Kortiz got the scoring started for Byron. With 7:18 in the opening period, he bowled over tacklers and scored on a five-yard carry. His extra-point kick split the uprights.

Five minutes later, the ground game struck again, Logan Keller followed his tackler and scored on a four-yard carry. The Koritz’ kick made it 14-0. Scoring would occur again 90 seconds later for Byron as Justin Martinez broke outside and free down the sideline. His score from 18-yards away and Koritz’ third kick of the night gave the Tigers the 21-0 lead. The first quarter ended with the Big Northern Conference leaders in front by three scores.

After scoring 21 points in the first period, Byron did it again in the second. Before the half visited however, Rockford Christian put two scores on the board. Touchdown catches of 30 and 29 yards were credited to senior Connor Rosche. The timing of the plays cut the deficit to two scores. With 3:01 to go before the half, Byron was in front 28-14.

The fight back would be enjoyed only momentarily. Bryce Scheffler returned the kick after score away from trouble and down the line for a 67-yard touchdown strike. Koritz and Byron were back in front three scores, 35-14, following the successful extra-point kick.

Rockford Christian attempted to put together a drive to close the half but ran into a wall and found itself forced to give the ball back to Byron with time remaining. The Tigers took over.

With 31-seconds to go in the half, the Tigers tallied their sixth total. Koritz collected the pass from quarterback Brandon Elsbury and disappeared behind the coverage. Only the end line stopped his early exit to the halftime break. Koritz hit his sixth extra-point of the half and Byron had the 42-14 lead.

After the break Martinez started the scoring again for the Tigers. He scampered twelve-yards and into the end zone midway through the period. With time remaining in the third, Koritz’ seventh kick pushed the lead to 35 points, 49-14.

Another stop and score by Byron would start a running clock for Rockford Christian. With 3:23 to go in the third quarter, the Tigers started the timer. Logan Keller covered two-yards and pushed the pile across to a 55-14 lead. Mason Snodgrass nailed the extra point and the lead was 42 points, 56-14. the clock began to move and time began to run out for Rockford Christian.

The Royal Lions came back with an additional score in the fourth quarter, but Pauly Rico got it back for Byron moments later. The back-up quarterback ran 55 yards for the score. Snodgrass ran it in as Byron claimed the night 64-21.

The Tigers covered more than 300 yards on the ground and five players weren’t even enough to offer. Justin Martinez carried the ball 13 times for 80 yards. Bryce Scheffler covered 96 yards in only six attempts. Trevor Kortiz added 50 yards rushing on seven carries and Logan Keller carried the ball six times, averaging over eight yards per attempt.

The Royal Lions were taken by air. Tiger’s quarterback Brandon Elsbury finished his night completing six of seven pass attempts for 180 yards. He notched two touchdown tosses to his totals as well. Koritz collected four passes for over 130 yards. Scheffler averaged nearly 25 yards per catch.

This Friday night the Tigers face a team that teeters on the possibility of not getting into the post-season. Winnebago lost to Rockford Lutheran on Friday night, Oct. 14, 46-28. Now they have to watch the scoreboards as well as worry about having to face one of the best teams in the State of Illinois on their home turf. Winnebago is 5-3. They have 29 playoff points heading into the Friday night match with Byron. Home field is secure it seems, for the Tigers.

With a win over Winnebago this Friday night, the Tigers could lock down a number- one seed position in the field of 32 when the 2016 Class 3A Tournament gets underway next Friday, Oct. 28. Byron’s 8-0 mark keeps them tied with Genoa-Kingston at the top of the pack in the Big Northern Conference. Rockford Christian dropped to 2-6 on the season with the loss.

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