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FOOTBALL: Chippewa Valley runs to victory over Eisenhower

Roberts, Taylor lead Big Reds offense

Chippewa Valley's Troy Taylor sprints down the sidelines as he runs the ball in for a touchdown in the third quarter. (Nicholas Barry)

Chippewa Valley'ss Troy Taylor (20) powers his way for extra yards as a group of Eisenhower defensemen try to stop him. (Nicholas Barry)

Chippewa Valley's Kyle Muller (17) catches a long pass on a third down attempt in the third quarter. (Nicholas Barry)

Chippewa Valley's Jimmy Wazney (40) dives for a fumbled ball after one of his teammates forced Eisenhower's quarterback into an error. (Nicholas Barry)

For those superstitious fans in attendance for Chippewa Valley’s 42-21 win over host Eisenhower, be assured: Your eyes did not deceive you.

Yes, it was Friday the 13th, and there really were smoke signals emanating from the Big Reds’ student section. If the fire marshal is reading this, he can relax; those fans used giant handfuls of baby powder to create the illusion of smoke wafting through this chilly night.

The message those fans tried to send was clear: the Big Reds are a serious contender for the MAC Red Division football crown. Chippewa Valley improved to 2-0 in the Red, and 3-0 overall. Ike, meanwhile, dropped to 1-1 in the division and 1-2 overall.

A dynamic running back tandem of senior Doug Roberts and junior Troy Taylor led the way behind a stalwart offensive line. Roberts rushed 14 times for 134 yards and a pair of scores; Taylor finished with 159 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.

Both stood out, but it was Roberts who wowed with his incredible balance and agility.

“Basically, it was all the linemen,” Roberts said. “I give it all up to them. We had great blocking up front, and they created holes for me to hit.”

Already guarding a big lead, Taylor scored on a 42-yard run with 3:36 left. His third and final touchdown came just 17 seconds after Ike quarterback Dan Chmielewski found senior wideout Charlie Hayes for that duo’s second scoring play.

Eisenhower moved the ball, but did not have an answer on defense for the Big Reds running attack.

Ike coach Chris Smith tipped his hat.

“You’ve got to be able to tackle them,” Smith said. “We had our chances to tackle them. Those guys are great, and I’ve been saying it all year.”

For Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant, the win carried a lot of significance, beyond another win over a divisional opponent.

“This is a big game for us,” Merchant said. “We’ve only beaten them 6 times in the history of our school, and we’d never beaten them twice in a row. That says something for us, and we talk about that as a program. We want people to talk about us the way they talk about Eisenhower.”

Chippewa Valley started to create some separation in the third quarter.

A 50-yard touchdown run by Taylor was a precursor to the Big Reds’ second score of the third quarter, in which senior quarterback Brendan Rohlfs found junior receiver Brendan Murphy on a 28-yard strike.

Rohlfs finished 7-of-10 for 104 yards passing; his counterpart Chmielewski completed 10-of-24 passes for 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

A see-saw first half saw Chippewa Valley emerge with a 21-14 lead.

Roberts was spectacular, rushing 11 times for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first 24 minutes.

His most electrifying run came with 4:48 left in the second quarter.

With the Big Reds looking at a first and 10 from its own 46, Roberts took a handoff and darted down the middle of the field. He was met after a handful of yards by the Ike defense, but managed to plow his way into the secondary. About 15 yards downfield, Roberts lost his balance on a shoestring-tackle attempt. Roberts put one hand down, stopped himself from dropping to the turf, and then burst into the end zone. The 54-yard scamper gave Chippewa Valley a 14-7 lead.

“I thought I was going to fall,” Roberts explained. “But, as soon as I got my balance back, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I have to house this one.’”

Roberts extended the lead to 21-7 on a 1-yard, wildcat-formation direct snap with 7:42 left in the half.

Eisenhower did not lay down, however.

Despite a sack on third down in the waning moments of the second quarter, Ike still put together a score.

On fourth and 20 from his own 29 yard line, Chmielewski found Hayes in the back of the end zone with 45.5 seconds left. Suddenly, the Eagles had fought back to within one score, 21-14.

Chippewa Valley struck first on a quick, three-play, 75-yard drive on its first possession of the game.

A 52-yard jaunt by Roberts set up the scoring play. Taylor cut down the right sideline for a 20-yard score just two minutes into the game.

Ike was able to answer when Chmielewski snuck in a one-yarder about two minutes later, which evened the game at 7-7.

Penalties played a major role in the second quarter. On three occasions, the Eagles were flagged for defensive penalties that resulted in Chippewa Valley third downs turning into first downs.

The Eisenhower defense twice intercepted Rohlfs in the first half.

Senior defensive back Carter Johnson snared one in the first quarter. The second, by junior Jake Corey, led to Ike’s late second-quarter touchdown.

Chippewa Valley forced one turnover in the first half, when senior lineman Jacob Thomas fell on a loose ball.

With a 3-0 start for the first time since 2006, the Big Reds appear ready to make their ascent to the top of the division. One may count Roberts among those who believe in that sentiment.

“A lot of teams better look out for us,” Roberts said.

That just might happen. If, that is, opponents can see through all that “smoke.”

Last Updated: 9/13/2013 11:04:02 PM EST

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