WHEATFIELD | Sophomore running back Joe Partin quietly made his presence felt as the season progressed for Kankakee Valley.
Partin, who had rushed for 371 yards on the season, had a breakout game Friday at Fred Jones Field in a Northwest Crossroads Conference game against Highland. Partin rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns to help the Kougars to a 49-26 victory.
“Our line just really picked it up, and we started clicking,” Partin said. "They opened up a lot of holes, and I had a good fullback, Al Berdine, blocking on the weak side when we were running.”
K.V. (4-4, 2-3) used its ground game with Partin and Berdine, who added 73 yards and a pair of TDs to build a 34-20 lead after three quarters.
Berdine’s second touchdown of the night gave the Kougars a 42-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“We were very pleased with our offense today,” K.V. coach Brad Stewart said. “Those guys -- they ran the ball hard, and we did a lot of things right.
“They’ve got a good defense, and it didn’t look like a good defense tonight. I credit our kids for that because they were willing to step up and did a nice job.”
Highland (4-4, 1-4) made it interesting when Tommy Brankin hauled in his second TD pass on the night from Hunter Rycerz to make it 42-26 with 8:26 left in the game, but K.V. added two more scores to deny Highland its second NCC win in as many games.
Partin scored two touchdowns in the first quarter sandwiched between an Ian Hardy 44-yard run for Highland.
When Berdine bulled in from 20 yards out to give K.V. a 21-6 lead with 9:53 left in the second quarter, it looked like the rout was on.
But these aren’t your older brother’s Highland players. The Trojans refused to quit.
Hunter Rycerz engineered a drive that Jeff Pasquinelli capped with a 22-yard jaunt up the gut of the K.V. defense to pull the score to 21-14.
Chase Sizemore caught a nine-yard pass from Darrick Webster to put K.V. up 28-14. Once again, Highland and Rycerz answered.
Tommy Brankin finished the two-minute drill with a nine-yard pass where he out jumped the defender in the end zone to cut the deficit to 28-20.
“We’re going to have to pick up our defense,” Berdine said. “Hopefully, our offense will keep doing what they did.”