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ROXANA – Roxana High School hosted the Prairie Central Hawks in the second round of the IHSA Class 3A football playoffs Saturday on a brisk and windy afternoon. The Hawks won the game by a score of 41-20 to move on to the quarterfinals, while the Shells’ season ends at 7-4.

Prairie Central came into this matchup undefeated and remains that way at 11-0.

This game was also the first time Roxana has made it to the second round since 2014 and comes after a 2-7 season last year.

Head coach Wade Devries made sure that his kids weren’t hanging their heads too low postgame.

“I never second guess the effort or the execution. I couldn’t be prouder,” he said. “We did it against one of the best teams in the state when no one gave us a shot.”

DeVries and the entire coaching staff knew that the Hawks were going to be a tough team to beat.

“I mean, we told them all week, in order to do what’s never been done, you have to do what’s never been done,” DeVries said.

The game got off to a good start for the Shells, scoring on the opening drive.

Roxana received to open the game and junior running back Terrel Graves took it up to the 20-yard line. The Shells found themselves with a 4th-and-1 play and converted it after junior QB Chris Walleck’s sneak. A big run from junior running back Evan Wells brought the ball to Prairie Central’s 24-yard line. Roxana once again converted on 4th down when senior running back Nik Ward got through on the 4th-and-7 play.

Finally, on fourth-and-goal, Wells carried in the 3-yard touchdown to get on the board first. The kick was no good, but the Shells still had an early 6-0 lead with only three and a half minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Hawks had a quick answer after they got the ball back at their own 40. After a reversal play, the Hawks sophomore running back Hudson Ault ran all the way to the endzone and after the kick was good from senior Dylan Bazzell, they took the lead 7-6. They would never trail again.

The Shells took over at their 29 and fumbled on 3rd-and-2. The Hawks immediately turned it back over on another fumble that senior defensive lineman Ashton Noble recovered. So, Roxana got the ball back, still at its 29-yard line.

They proceeded to punt on fourth down and Prairie Central took over at its own 29-yard line. They went up the field and scored after senior QB Drew Haberkorn ran it 33 yards to the house with 6:27 left in the half. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but the Hawks still led 13-6.

Roxana took over at its 26-yard line. Walleck threw one up to sophomore Andruw Ellis for a 1st down. They then faced another 4th down situation. This time the Shells faked a punt and connected a pass to senior tight end Jackson Harris.

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After keeping the drive alive Walleck threw it again to Ellis for a 34-yard TD. The kick was good to tie the game up at 13-13 with two minutes to go in the half.

They got the ball back at their 45-yard line and scored a throwing TD making it 20-13 heading into the locker rooms.

The Hawks got the ball to open up the second half, but the Shells’ defense held them to a stop. Unfortunately, after Roxana got the ball back at its 26-yard line, they went 4-and-out after only picking up a couple of yards.

Prairie Central started with the ball at the Shells’ 36 after Ault had a long kick return. They wouldn’t squander the great field position and scored on the first play of the drive. Senior running back Drew Fehr ran it the remaining 36 yards going almost untouched to extend the lead to 26-13. The Hawks failed the two-point conversion.

The Shells got the ball back but had to punt on 4th-and-20 after not being able to make up the ground lost on a blocking-in-the-back penalty.

The Hawks took over at their own 31 but also were forced to punt. They fumbled the ball during the punt attempt and Roxana got the ball back at Prairie Central’s 26-yard line.

Graves had a 15-yard run good for 1st down, but the Shells once again were staring at a 4th-and-8. Walleck handed the ball off to Graves again who brought it in, barreling his way through a couple of defenders along the way. The kick was good to make it 26-20 and that’s how the game stood heading into the fourth quarter.

Roxana had the Hawks right where they wanted them according to coach DeVries.

“We wanted to take this game to the fourth quarter and give ourselves a chance to win because no one has ever done that to these guys,” he said.

According to DeVries, the Hawks haven’t had to play their starters in the fourth quarter all season.

The Hawks didn’t break though. They scored two unanswered touchdowns to get the score line to 41-20 and move their way into the quarterfinals.

Once again, DeVries was not disappointed in his team’s performance, only the score line.

“We proved that we can give ourselves an opportunity to win against anybody in the state, and it sucks that we don’t get another shot next week because I’d love to take it.”

The Shells wrap up what can be considered a successful 7-4 campaign. The loss against Prairie Central was their first at home this season.

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