By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
The Rockton Hononegah Indians may have played their worst offensive game of the season Friday, Oct. 5, as they traveled to face Rockford Guilford.
Hononegah turned the ball over three times. They also had 12 penalties that turned back a lot of big plays.
But the Hononegah defense held strong, causing turnovers of their own and allowing Alex Martin to continue his push to a possible conference MVP in a 29-8 victory.
Martin, the junior transfer from Missouri, ran for 148 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead Hononegah (6-1) for the second straight game.
“No, I haven’t,” Martin said when asked if he has scored that many touchdowns in two games. “But it felt pretty good to go out and score another four touchdowns and help the team get the victory.”
Martin is neck and neck with DeMarcus Vines of Rockford Boylan Catholic for the conference lead in touchdowns, and appears to be getting stronger each week as he becomes a bigger focus for the Indians’ offense.
“He’s been pretty special for us, no doubt about it,” Hononegah Head Coach Tim Sughroue said.
It was needed on a night when the Indians struggled. Justin Carroll did run for 117 yards for Guilford (3-4), but more than half was on a 68-yard run in the first half that set up a Nick Hyatte touchdown. Outside of that play, Guilford had fewer than 100 yards of offense.
“We weren’t very crisp this week in practice or tonight,” Sughroue said. “But good teams battle through to get wins. Our defense really stepped up tonight.”
While the Indians were officially securing their spot in the IHSA playoffs, the Rockford Auburn Knights were inching closer to some history of their own.
Freeport (3-4) got 165 yards and two touchdowns from Tony McShane, but key turnovers forced by the Knights’ defense helped Auburn (4-3) hold on to a 27-20 victory.
The win gives the Knights four wins for the season. With two games left to play, Auburn only needs to win one to be playoff eligible. Winning both would guarantee them a spot.
Five wins is by no means a guarantee to make the playoffs, but with only conference games played in the NIC-10, it gives a set floor for playoff points, which are determined by opponents’ wins. Recent history shows fives wins is enough for a NIC-10 team to qualify.
The Knights will face Rockford East and Rockford Boylan the last two weeks. With a win, Auburn would have a winning season for the first time since 1997 and a chance for their first playoff berth since 1990, and only the second in school history.
Around the NIC-10:
• Kevin Witcik became the all-time leading rusher in Machesney Park Harlem Huskies history as he helped lead Harlem (5-2) to a 42-13 victory over Rockford Jefferson (0-7). The win makes them playoff eligible, with one more victory securing a spot.
• The Belvidere Bucs (4-3) continue to cling to their playoff hopes, needing double overtime, and several missed extra points, to hold off Rockford East 46-44. East (1-6) had a chance to win in regulation, but missed an extra point. The Bucs had the same opportunity in the first overtime and missed. The Bucs need one more win to be playoff eligible with Boylan and Belvidere North left to play.
• Vines ran for 152 yards for Boylan (7-0) as the Titans used a hot start to overcome two Brock Stull interceptions during a 45-14 win over Belvidere North (2-5). Jace Bankford did throw for 295 yards and threw for one touchdown for the Blue Thunder.
From the Oct. 10-16, 2012, issue