Rebels’ defense continues to dominate

INDIANAPOLIS — Roncalli’s opponent Friday night, Martinsville, had allowed at least 41 points in each of its previous six games.

The host Rebels didn’t continue that streak, but their defense made a bigger mark on the outcome. Roncalli sacked Artesians quarterback Jonathan Collier seven times, all in the first half, en route to a 35-9 Homecoming victory.

Roncalli, which is 7-0 for the fifth time in program history, built a 35-0 lead after Kenny Gillum ran for his third touchdown of the night on the Rebels’ first possession of the second half, then played reserves the rest of the way. Martinsville (0-7) didn’t score until a 23-yard Caleb Urban field goal with 10:01 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Rebels’ defense hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game since a season-opening 25-21 win at Southport. Facing Martinsville’s pass-happy offense, Roncalli coach Bruce Scifres was pleased with how the defense shut down the Artesians.

“(Collier) has good feet and good command,” Scifres said. “We wanted to get pressure on him, but also maintain solid coverage.”

Mission accomplished. Collier completed just 8 of 18 passes for 98 yards before exiting the game after three quarters. Zane Wagner, Jones Asher and Demarcus Smith each sacked Collier twice, and Gabe Otley added a sack, while Alex Kuntz intercepted a Collier pass.

Gillum finished with 104 yards on just 14 carries, a 7.4-yard average, before leaving the game after the Rebels’ first offensive series of the second half.

Otley caught Derek O’Connor’s lone touchdown pass, a 24-yard strike with 2:34 to play in the first half, to give Roncalli a 21-0 lead. Patrick McManama scored the Rebels’ other touchdown, a 20-yard run early in the second quarter that gave the Rebels a 14-0 edge.

Roncalli put the game away late in the first half with two touchdowns within 33 seconds of each other. After Otley’s touchdown catch, Roncalli forced a quick three-and-out, and Martinsville managed just an 11-yard punt in a pouring rain, giving the Rebels the ball at the Artesians’ 25-yard line. Gillum promptly took the handoff on Roncalli’s next play from scrimmage and ran for a touchdown to extend the Rebels’ lead to 28-0.

“Our first offensive series was a little disappointing (three-and-out), but I was happy with things after that,” Scifres said. “We committed our first turnover of the season, but it was a rainy night.”

Roncalli hosts Class 5A No. 9 Decatur Central next Friday in its regular-season home finale. The Hawks defeated Greenwood 28-14 on Friday.

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Adam Wire is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.