Although East Aurora found itself in an early hole courtesy of Derek Kumerow’s 85-yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff, the Tomcats played well offensively in the first quarter.
But East’s shortfalls on both sides of the ball led to South Elgin scoring five TDs in the second quarter as the Storm won going away 71-24 in an Upstate Eight Valley game in Aurora.
Shawn Griffin (five carries, 74 yards) and Kyle Ware (three carries, 50 yards) each had first-quarter TD runs for the Storm (3-3, 2-2), but Maurice Nichols caught a 20-yard scoring pass from Michael Gonzales at the 5:22 mark for East (0-6, 0-4). Richard Barajas added a 31-yard field goal at the end of the first, and the Tomcats were close at 21-10.
“We tried to move the ball as much as we could,” Nichols said. “We didn’t play as we wanted to, but we came out and fought. I saw our quarterback looking me in the eye (on the TD reception), and I cut straight up the middle for the catch.”
Ware had a 15-yard scoring run early in the second, and Griffin put a 9-yard TD run on the board less than three minutes later.
“The offensive line was making huge holes, and I hit them as hard as I could,” Griffin said. “Ware and I can split the carries and stay fresh, and it makes our offense more flexible.”
But the Storm’s defense also swarmed the Tomcat passing game, and Nickiel Williby intercepted Gonzales on a deflection and returned it for a 42-yard TD as South Elgin scored three times in the first three minutes of the second.
“We had great coverage on the slant route, and the ball was thrown high so I knew it would be tipped to me,” Williby said. “We had great blocks, and I wouldn’t have scored without them. It was great teamwork.”
Joey Rohde also returned an interception for a 36-yard score, and Jacob Amrhein hit Julian Lynch on a 12-yard scoring pass as the Storm raced to a 57-10 halftime lead.
Nathaniel Booker broke an exciting 61-yard touchdown dash in the third for the Tomcats, and Nichols caught another 22-yard score in the fourth as East did not give up.
“My right guard blocked the right way, and I side-stepped the end and saw the opening,” Booker said. “The defensive back grabbed me, but I got him off and my determination pushed me through.
“The opening kickoff didn’t go well, but we got it together. We need to get it together earlier rather than later.”