Craig Elmore (1) of Phillips runs for a touchdown against Raby at Mandrake Park, October 6, 2017 Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Craig Elmore busts loose, leads Phillips past Raby

SHARE Craig Elmore busts loose, leads Phillips past Raby
SHARE Craig Elmore busts loose, leads Phillips past Raby

Raby arrived at Mandrake Park on Friday undefeated, riding a tidal wave of social media boasts and taunts. The atmosphere was heated from the kickoff. The Raiders wanted to take down Phillips, the reigning kings of the Public League, and they thought they had the talent to do it.

It turns out that Raby isn’t quite there yet, but they were able to make the Wildcats fight for a 42-28 victory.

“I’m glad Raby did [all the talking],” Phillips running back Craig Elmore said. “It shows how humble Phillips is. It is very hard to take the high road, but we’ve been doing it for quite awhile and we will continue to do it.”

Elmore was a complete difference-maker, finishing with 23 carries for 220 yards and three touchdowns.

“That’s the best game of my career,” Elmore said. “We came out motivated. That’s a lot of yards. I’m proud of myself, proud of the offensive line. They tried to run our defense against us. The offensive line stepped up and I made it happen.”

Elmore also caught a 45-yard pass. Almost all of that was in the first half, he suffered a laundry list of minor injuries and was out for most of the final two quarters.

“I tackled [Raby quarterback Tyshun Turnipseed] and hurt my ankle,” Elmore said. “Then I picked up a cramp, the first one I’ve ever had. And then my head got whipped around and I hurt my neck.”

Phillips quarterback J’Bore Gibbs settled the Wildcats (7-0, Illini Land of Lincoln 4-0) down and took care of business with Elmore off the field. He finished 7-for-17 passing for 254 yards and had 15 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns. His 28-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter was a wonder, he twisted and spun to give the Wildcats a 34-14 lead.

Fabian McCray caught five passes for 91 yards and had a key interception in the first half that helped tone down Raby’s momentum and quiet the Raiders’ fans.

“It was a statement game,” McCray said. “The other games lately were so easy, we were getting sluggish but they made us pick it up.”

Turnipseed finished 8-for-22 passing for 262 yards and one touchdown, a 43-yard pass to Sirshaun Gardner. Turnipseed rushed 13 times for 51 yards and two touchdowns. He’s big and strong and carries himself with confidence on the field, looking like a threat to score at any moment.

Gardner caught two passes for 105 yards and had a 70-yard kick return touchdown in the third quarter that pulled the Raiders (6-1, 3-1) within 34-22. Raby receiver Monte Tillman had four catches for 68 yards.

“We just kept our poise in the second half,” Gibbs said. “We knew that this was our home and our field and we had to take charge.”

It’s been a challenging year for CPS football, with a dozen schools forfeiting the season. Raby’s performance is definitely a bright spot in a dim season.

“Absolutely,” Gibbs said. “We’re the big time CPS school or whatever, but it is definitely good to see them come out and play like that. It’s better for all of us when CPS teams improve.”

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