Brandon Purnell’s pass rush powers Simeon

SHARE Brandon Purnell’s pass rush powers Simeon

Simeon linebacker Brandon Purnell picked a good time to record the first multi-sack game of his career.

Purnell posted two sacks to lead a punishing front seven as Simeon bested Downers Grove South 28–7 in a Class 8A playoff opener Saturday at Gately Stadium.

“We had way too much speed over them,” Purnell said. “All I can say is we worked hard and stayed disciplined.”

With the defense clicking, Simeon (9–1) used a balanced offense to jump out to a 20–0 lead at halftime. Timon Watkins hit Matt Fleming for a pair of first-half touchdowns. Watkins added two more scores on the ground.

“We always want to have a balanced attack,” Watkins said. “Our receivers did a good job of using their speed to get down field even when the corners were playing up. We just tried to take what we could get.”

Watkins distributed passes to four different receivers in going 10-for–16 for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

Fleming hauled in a perfect 39-yard toss down the sideline to open the scoring. He added a 9-yard TD catch to make it 20–0 after Watkins reached the end zone on an 8-yard keeper.

“My receivers told me to throw it deep and that they’d go make a play,” Watkins said.

“They gave us some things underneath that we took advantage of,” Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said. “And then we were able to take advantage of some things on the edge with our speed.”

Downers South (6–4) received a late score from Jacob Baker, but with 3:57 remaining, it was window dressing. Baker scored from 3-yards out and finished with 84 yards on 19 carries.

“We really struggled to move the ball,” Downers South coach Mark Molinari said. “They’re a fast and well-coached team.”

Downers South went backwards on six of its first 21 plays.

“We always want to run it and stop the run, but it took us a while to get the running game going and it was a little too late.”

Simeon defensive back Anthony Sheko showed his versatility with an interception and two tackles for loss. Running back Dion Earls Jr. added 106 yards on 11 carries for the Wolverines.

“The defensive line played well. They’ve been banged up all week,” Culbreath said. “We’ve been moving them around but they came out and did a nice job.”

Conner Murphy had two interceptions for the Mustangs, the second of which came when he won a jump ball on a deep pass from Watkins.

Simeon advances to face Hinsdale Central next week.

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