MERRILLVILLE | Perhaps it was a simple matter of hydration.
An unusually hot and humid October night created a literal and figurative fog for the first half of Friday’s game between Andrean and Kankakee Valley.
Ten punts spiraled through the mist, and the score was a modest 7-0 in favor of the 59ers at halftime. Whichever team adjusted best -- to the heat and the opponent -- in the second half was in line for a big win.
After halftime, everything that went wrong in the first half for the Andrean offense went right, and five different 59ers scored to give unbeaten Times No. 1 Andrean a 35-6 homecoming victory over Northwest Crossroads Conference foe Kankakee Valley.
“I don’t know if it was the heat that got to us, but we dropped a wide-open screen and dropped a post route and had breakdowns in protection,” Andrean coach Phil Mason said. “In the second half we hit what we needed to hit.”
Andrean quarterback Matt DeSomer started 1-for-8 passing for three yards with a lost fumble and a red zone interception, but he found his mark in the second half.
He was 6-for-8 for 165 yards and two scores after halftime as the 59ers scored on every possession of the second half. DeSomer's 72-yard scoring run in the first quarter accounted for the only points of the first half.
Andrean (7-0, 4-0) scored on its first three possessions of the second half. Trevor Berg found a gap for a 55-yard scoring run, then DeSomer hit Donovan Chandler for a 32-yard touchdown pass. DeSomer’s 69-yard pass to Jamie Johnson with 10:11 to go in the game was his final offensive play of the night, and it gave the 59ers a 28-0 lead.
“We knew we had man coverage on the outside, and we know how athletic we are, and we just had to take advantage of it,” Mason said. “I wasn’t going to pound it inside against a nine-man box all night.”
Backup tailback Cameron Bosak ran six times for 21 yards and Andrean’s final touchdown, a 1-yard score with 3:20 to go.
The Niners (7-0, 4-0) amassed 455 yards of offense and shut the Kougars out for 32 minutes. Bruising K.V. sophomore tailback Joe Partin scored from 17 yards out, landing in the end zone after the clock hit all zeroes, to ruin the shutout.
“I’m proud of our defense because K.V. is a solid offensive team that is really big up front with big, big backs,” Mason said. “Our defense played absolutely outstanding. That was outstanding for us to play that way against such a physical team.”
Partin had 78 yards on the final drive to finish with 106 yards on 14 carries. K.V. totaled 181 yards, and the Andrean linebacking corps of Tylor Petkovich, Josh Barajas and David Graham made sure 17 of the Kougars’ 43 carries went for no gain or negative yardage.
Kougars starting quarterback Darrick Webster left the game after taking a helmet to the chest late in the first half. Tim Schoonveld replaced him and ran for 35 yards on 12 carries.
K.V. (3-4, 1-3) held Andrean to 143 yards in the first half -- 71 minus DeSomer’s scoring run.
“We are not at the point of our season where we can afford moral victories,” K.V. coach Brad Stewart said. “Andrean is a good football team, and you have to be at your best to beat them. We were at our best defensively in the first half, but things dropped out in the second half when we got tired.”