GCMS football defeats Chicago Hope Academy 31-7 in second round of IHSA Class 2A playoffs

By ROSS BROWN

bluehavanaross@gmail.com

GIBSON CITY — Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley showed just how dominant it is in a hard-fought 31-7 win over Chicago Hope Academy in Gibson City.

Going into Saturday’s second round class 2A matchup, it looked like the Falcons would face its first true test of the season against the Eagles, who finished the regular season 7-2 but lost its only two games to state powerhouses Mt. Carmel and Providence Catholic.

Hope got the ball first at its own 25-yard line off of a touchback by GCMS kicker Ben Freehill. On a third-down play, Jared Trantina intercepted a pass from Eagles’ quarterback Trevor Land and ran it deep into Hope territory, setting up a first-and-goal situation for the Falcons.

Quarterback Nathan Garard found the end zone on third down with 9:35 left in the first quarter, putting GCMS out on top 7-0 after the extra point kick by Freehill. Garard finished 8-of-17 passing for 87 yards and one touchdown.

The remainder of the first quarter featured drives by both teams that ultimately came up empty. Hope was first up, going three-and-out and giving GCMS the ball back.

Unfortunately, Garard was intercepted after eating up the clock on the way down the field, setting up an Eagle possession at its own 25-yard line.

That possession was stalled by the standout Falcon defense, forcing Hope to punt the ball away and giving GCMS time to tack on another score.

Following a drive down the field, GCMS was left facing a fourth down situation after stops by Hope. Freehill attempted a 38-yard field goal with about two minutes left in the game that failed, but the Falcons were gifted with new hope after an Eagle lineman ran into Freehill on the field goal kick. That penalty moved the ball up 15 yards and a fresh set of downs in short field territory for the Falcons.

With 1:05 remaining in the quarter, Trantina found the end zone in the first of three scores of the game, this one on a one-yard run, making it a two possession game.

After the first quarter of play, GCMS led 14-0.

GCMS got on the board early in the second quarter, with Trantina scoring on a four-yard touchdown run with 11:33 left in the first half, putting the Falcons up 21-0.

Though GCMS dominating up to that point, Hope finally answered, driving the ball down the field quickly on several long runs, ultimately setting up a one-yard touchdown by Land on a quarterback keeper with 8:25 to go that cut GCMS’s lead to 21-7.

On the next offensive possession, the Eagles gained momentum once again as they intercepted a second pass from Garard in their own territory and returned it to the opposing 35-yard line. However, that drive would be stalled by GCMS’s defense, forcing a turnover by Hope on the Falcon 25-yard line and giving the ball back in Falcon hands.

GCMS would eventually punt the ball, but would make a huge stop of its own on the 50-yard line with 28 second to go before halftime, sealing a 21-7 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, GCMS added a touchdown and extra point off of a 6-yard run by Trantina, extending the lead to 28-7. That would be the only score by either team in the third quarter and the last touchdown the rest of the way.

Ben Freehill continued his magic, making good on a 38-yard field goal attempt with 9:40 remaining in the game, sealing GCMS’s 31-7 victory.

Trantina led GCMS in rushing with 162 yards on 33 carries, as well as three touchdowns, adding to his thousand-yard plus rushing output for the season. Aidan Laughery, who made a rare start as being only a freshman, led GCMS on defense with 10 tackles, with one being for a loss.

For the Hope Academy Eagles, quarterback Land finished 10-of-30 for 114 yards while also rushing for 110 yards on 18 carries, also making the only touchdown for the Eagles, who finish at 8-3 on the season.

GCMS led the output on the ground, finishing with 198 total rushing yards on 44 carries, while Hope led the air attack with 114 yards on 30 passes. GCMS also finished with 87 yards on 17 passing attempts, while Hope finished with 128 yards on the ground off of 30 carries.

Penalties proved to be reckless for Hope Academy, as the Eagles were held back on multiple personal fouls and one running into the kicker penalty which set up the aforementioned touchdown by Trantina in the first quarter.

GCMS, which improved its unbeaten mark to 11-0 and now has not lost a game in more than two calendar years, will travel north to Sterling High School’s football field on Saturday to take on Newman Central Catholic. The Comets defeated Illini West 46-14 on Saturday afternoon. GCMS and Newman met in the semifinals last season in Gibson City, with the Falcons winning 14-8.


GCMS 31, Chicago Hope Academy 7
CHA    0   7   0   0   — 7
GCMS    14  7  7  3  — 31
Scoring summary
G — Garard 1 run (Freehill kick)
G — Trantina 1 run (Freehill kick)
G — Trantina 4 run (Freehill kick)
C — Land 1 run (Lin kick)
G — Trantina 6 run (Freehill kick)
G — Freehill 38 FG

Individual statistics
RUSHING — CHA 30-128 (Land 18-100). GCMS 44-198 (Trantina 33-162)
PASSING — CHA (Land 10-30-114). GCMS (Garard 8-17-87).
TACKLES — GCMS (Laughery 10, 1 TFL).

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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