MAPLE PARK — Big plays, and plenty of them, were the hallmark for the Kaneland football team Friday night.
Unfortunately for Morris, its defense was the victim of those big plays as Kaneland eliminated the Redskins from playoff contention, handing them a 50-14 Northern Illinois Big 12 East loss.
The Knights (6-2, 3-1) wasted little time setting the big-play tone. After forcing Morris to punt on the game's first possession, Kaneland's Jonathan Alstott rumbled 54 yards to the Redskins' 1 on the second play, and bulled into the end zone on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
After another Morris punt, Kaneland took over at its own 29. A run for a loss of two yards and a falst start penalty put them in a 2nd and 17 situation, but quarterback Joe Smith found Max Gagne behind the Morris defense and Gagne outran the pursuit for a 78-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Kaneland lead.
Morris (3-5, 0-4) countered behind the arm of Mitch Mayberry, as he completed 6 of 7 passes on the next drive for 84 yards before Tyler Petty scored on a 1-yard run to cut the Kaneland lead to 14-7.
"After playing these conference teams for a few years, there aren't many surprises as far as what they are going to run," Morris coach Alan Thorson said. "Their athletes made some big plays tonight and, bottom line, they wanted it more.
"This was embarassing. This was not how a Morris team should play, and I will take full responsibility for it."
Kaneland was able to score on the ensuing possession, as Alstott (13 carries, 216 yards) ran for a 15-yard gain on 4th and 2, and, on the next play, Smith scored on a 14-yard run to allow the Knights to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.
Morris was close to tightening the score before halftime. On 2nd and 10 from the Kaneland 15, the Redskins had a 14-yard gain to the 1 nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty and could not get any closer before giving the ball up on downs.
"That kind of summed up our season so far," Thorson said. "We have had mistakes at bad times that have killed us all year."
Kaneland took the second-half kickoff and drove 44 yards on seven plays, all on the ground, finishing with a 1-yard plunge by Chaz Shaw.
Morris got to the Knights' 14 on the next drive, but Mayberry was intercepted by Trevor Carlson, who returned the ball to the Kaneland 23. After a false start penalty, Smith and Gagne hooked up for another long touchdown, this one covering 82 yards.
Morris had to punt after its next drive, and kick was downed at the Kaneland 6. Then, Alstott broke free around the right end and went 94 yards for a touchdown and a 43-7 lead.
Shaw capped the scoring for Kaneland with an 11-yard run with 1:46 left in the third quarter, starting the running clock. Morris' final TD came on a five-yard run by Brandon Phelps.
Mayberry completed 17 of 30 passes for 181 yards for Morris, while Smith was 7 of 8 for 214 yards for Kaneland. It was the first time Morris had surrendered 50 points since a 51-15 loss to Joliet Catholic Academy in 2007.