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Roxana senior Logan Reardon scrambles to get through the Vandal defense on Friday at Charlie Raich Field.
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Shells junior Blake Vandiver gets wrapped up by the Vandalia defense Friday.
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A host of Shells battle to bring Vandalia junior Bryce McKinney down on the play.
ROXANA — The Roxana Shells and the Vandalia Vandals stepped on the field Friday night tied with 2-1 South Central Conference records, looking to move up the league ladder.
The Shells made the jump, pushing past the Vandals 39-26 to nab the win on their home turf. The Shells improve to 3-1 on the season with the victory while Vandalia falls to 2-2 after the loss.
The Shells took charge early and maintained ball control for over nine minutes in the first quarter, keeping their offense on the field by capitalizing on three fumbles by the Vandals.
After the Shells received the initial kickoff, the ball was turned over to the Vandals after four downs, but quickly regained control on a Vandalia fumble. The Shells got on the board on a handoff to senior Logan Reardon with 6:41 remaining in the first half. The Shells failed on a 2-point conversion keeping the score at 6-0.
After a second Vandalia fumble on a kickoff return, the Shells retook control and put junior Trace Gentry in the end zone with a 20-yard pass from junior QB Chance Foss. With a second failed 2-point conversion, the score was 12-0 with 6:41 left on the clock in the opening quarter.
The Shells forced the Vandals into another turnover when junior Blake Vandiver reached up for an interception and returned the ball 15-yards to put the Shells in good field position.
Roxana found the end zone again on a 10-yard pass to senior Seth Chester with 2:23 remaining. Roxana failed to punch through to the end zone for the 2-point conversion again and the lead was kept at 18-0.
The Vandals finally had their first full possession of the game with 13 seconds left in the first quarter, but were forced into a punt situation.
The Shells kept on pace in the second quarter when Reardon broke through the Vandals defense with a 15-yard carry to score his second touchdown of the game. The Shells opted to go for the extra kick and Reardon finished what he started and put the ball through the uprights to bring the score to 25-0.
Vandalia finally got on the board at the 5:47 mark of the second quarter. Sophomore Daniel Dobrino outran Roxana junior Jarod Foiles to the end zone on an 84-yard run and after a failed 2-point conversion attempt, trailed 25-6.
The Shells turned the ball over with short time on the clock in the first half when they fumbled on third and 23. The Vandals thought they had capitalized on a 24-yard TD pass, but it was called back for a holding penalty.
With 10 seconds left in the first half, Vandalia would give a last ditch effort, but was only able to reach the 5-yard line. The buzzer sounded sending the Shells to the locker room up 25-6.
"The first half we played with some intensity but started to slip just before half time; in the second half we were able to shut down their run game and force them to pass," Roxana defensive lineman Seth Chester said. "The second half we started off a little flat, but we came around. I wouldn't want to be on the field with any other defensive line, we have some mean guys and when it's time to step it up we get it done."
The Vandals received the kick-off in the third quarter and wasted no time regaining momentum when sophomore Gavin Gall wound up in the end zone on a pass from Dobrino. The Vandals failed on the 2-point conversion to bring the score to 25-12.
With 3:37 left in the third quarter, Reardon was the recipient of a 57-yard touchdown pass from Foss. The Shells capitalized on the 2-point conversion to bring the score to 33-12.
The Vandals wouldn't be out done and answered with a 27-yard pass to Michael Griffith. They were successful on the 2-point conversion to Dobrino to cut the Shells lead to 33-20 with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter.
The Shells found the end zone one more time with a 45-yard pitch and catch to Alec Revelle, but failed to make the 2-point conversion, bringing the score to 39-20.
The Vandals made one more drive for the end zone in the fourth quarter as Gall received a 35-yard pass, but again Vandalia failed on the 2-point conversion to bring the final score to 39-26.
"I have to give hats off to Vandalia, they battled all the way through and didn't make it easy for us, but we'll take the win," said Roxana head coach Pat Keith. "Guys like Chester, Revelle, Vandiver and Reardon, they do really well for us. Reardon had a couple touchdowns and really contributes, he's a good senior leader."
The Shells coaching staff felt they started the second half flat, but picked back up late in the third and fourth quarter.
"We got a little comfortable with the lead when we started off. In the second half we were flat," Keith said. "We had some big plays and the guys gutted it out, we had six sacks on defense...that's big for us to build on. Next week's game against Greenville is going to be a real test for us."
Roxana QB Chance Foss had 101 yards passing with one TD, while Reardon led the Shells with 29 carries for 220 yards for the night. Vandiver had 16 carries for 65 yards and Chester was 2 for 24 with one touchdown. Revelle had one catch for 45-yards and Gentry had two catches for 33 yards and one touchdown.
For the Shells defense, Seth Chester took point with eight tackles and four assists, Alec Revelle compiled four tackles and two assists. Freshman Jordan Hawkins and junior Trace Gentry set a tone with two sacks also.
Next week Roxana will travel to Greenville at 7 p.m. on Friday for a tough test against the SCC-leading Comets (4-0).