Whitham scores ‘hat trick’ but seven turnovers end season


Kyle Whitham is an all-conference goalie on the Switzerland County soccer team scored the equivalent of a soccer hat trick (three scores) in the Pacers Class A Sectional 35 football sectional on Friday Oct. 20th in Pekin. Although the touchdowns were worth six points each (instead of one), the 18 points were not enough to overcome seven turnovers which Eastern Pekin turned into 25 of its 59 points in a 59 to 21 sectional opener.

SC’s defense forced Eastern to three and out on their first two possessions. Unfortunately, the Pacers were intercepted and fumbled on their first two possessions. A roughing the passer call set up an 11 yard TD run by Brandon Tandy. He added the two point conversion for an 8 to 0 lead with 5:15 left in the first quarter.

Tre Batchelor’s kick return set the Pacers at its own 47 but a second down pass was deflected and intercepted by Parker Wallingform who went 51 yards for the score. Tandy converted again for a 16 to 0 advantage with 4:15 on the clock.

The Pacers continued to have good field position and took advantage as freshman quarterback Damion Courter found Whitham who raced 50 yards. The two point conversion failed and it was 16 to 6 with 2:45 left in the first quarter.

The Pacers’ celebration was short-lived as Wallingford went 73 yards on their next offensive play just 19 seconds later. The PAT failed to make it 22 to 6.

A short kick off was recovered by Eastern on the Pacers’ 34. Tandy’s 19 yard run made it 28 to 6 with 2:09 in the quarter. Eastern made it 34 to 6 on a five yard TD run by Leif Edlin on the first play of the second quarter. The PAT was blocked.

During the Pacers’ next series hard running senior Trystan Kielbasa received an unsportsmanlike penalty after being hit for a loss. SC had to punt out of its end-zone. Whitham fielded a bad snap and had to run. Kielbasa received a second unsportsmanlike and was ejected from the game. Eastern had the ball on the seven yard line but were whistled for a tripping call and the Pacer defense kept them out of the end-zone.

Backed up at its own 11, Eastern picked off Courter setting up a 16 yard TD by 28 for a 40 to 6 score with 6:58 left in the half.

The Pacers’ closed out the first half scoring by going 58 yards in six plays including a pass interference call and Courter to Whitham hookups for 25 and 10 yards. Whitham bulldozed his way the final eight yards stretching in with 1:11 left until half. Courter’s QB keeper for a two point conversion made it 40 to 14 at the half.

The Pacers’ second half didn’t start any better as they were backed up at the 17 and three plays later Wallingford picked off Courter to set up a 26 yard TD run by Tandy. Place-kicker Samantha Gilstrap (5’4″senior) converted on her first PAT of the season to make it 47 to 14 with 10:15 on the clock.

Switzerland County mounted its first sustained drive of the night moving from its own 37 to the Eastern 11 on nine plays before being stopped. Whitham started the drive with a 17 yard run then he and Courter converted on a 12 yard fourth down play with a personal foul added on.

Eastern went 88 yards on three plays with Wallingford going 68 yards to make it 53 to 14 with 5:56 left in the third.

The scoring deficit led to a long night of passing for courter (8-for-30-166 yards, 4INT-1TD) which included a 46 yard reception by Dathan Brown.

Junior lineman Harrison Griffis’ fumble recovery stopped the next Eastern drive at the Pacers’ 10 to end the quarter.

Eastern’s Baylor Rose added their final score on a five yard run. The Pacers blocked a second kick making it 59 to 14.

The Pacers took out all stops with Whitham setting up at quarterback but was picked off.

The Pacer offense closed the season with a 63-yard scoring drive on 10 plays. Kenyon Bledsoe (one of seven seniors) caught a 12 yard pass from Courter.

A pass interference and another Courter to Whitham for 12 yards and the seventh first down for the Pacers. Senior lineman Pete Records (5’10”, 265) got four yards on a run. Tre Batchelor became the third person to throw pass for the Pacers on the evening as he hit Whitham who escaped down the sideline for a 22 yard TD. Bledsoe kicked the final point with 1:07 left.

Switzerland County closed the season at 3-7. Seniors joining Bledsoe, Whitham and Records included: Cameron Niswander, Michael Lay, Isaac Slover, and Andrew Garland.