Fairbury — Trailing by just six points at the half, Rantoul’s Eagles fell to host Prairie Central 42-20 in the high school football opener for both teams.
Prairie Central scored three unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game away.
Rantoul took the lead 7-6 early in the second quarter when Luke Zech found Keddrick Terhune for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
The Eagles only led for a minute and 18 seconds before the Hawks took the lead back for good on a 3-yard run to make it 12-7.
Central scored again on an 18-yard run to make it 20-7.
Rantoul got on the board again right before half when Logan Evans ran it in from a yard out for a 20-14 deficit at intermission.
Eagles head Tom Hess said the Eagles felt good going into half.
“The first half was close and we dominated the time of possession,” Hess said.
The Eagles controlled the time of possession the entire game, having the ball in their possession for more than 34 minutes, but they couldn’t put enough points on the board.
Special teams ended up being the downfall for the Eagles.
“The game was very competitive, but two blocked kicks were backbreaking,” Hess said.
The Eagles were able to move the ball both on the ground and through the air, rolling up 213 yards rushing and 140 passing.
Hess was pleased with being able to be successful with both.
“I was happy we were more versatile on offense, throwing the ball around and not just running,” Hess said.
Zech went 11-21 with 113 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles. Keddrick Terhune went 2-4 for 27 yards.
Receiving leaders for the Eagles were Colin Wilkerson, Bryant Shaw and Terhune. Wilkerson had four catches for 68 yards. Shaw had a pair of catches for 44 yards and Terhune had two catches 25 yard and a touchdown.
The Eagles had five guys run for more than 20 yards on the ground. Zech led the way with 52, while Terhune had 49, Evans 38 yards and a touchdown, Rashon Allen 26 yards and Robert Buford 22.
The bright spot on defense for the Eagles two fumble recoveries. Jerry Harper and Sam Wines were able to jump on the Hawks miscues.
The Eagles had a lot to be happy about despite the loss, but Hess knows there is a lot to clean up.
“We will be making some major improvements in practice,” Hess said.
Up next for the Eagles is a big test on Friday night. St. Joseph-Ogden will roll into town coming off a 36-8 victory over St. Thomas More.
It is homecoming for the Eagles, and Hess expects a big turnout.
“Hopefully a lot of people come out for homecoming,” Hess said. “The community support has been growing in the last few years, and we hope to put on a great performance.”
If the Eagles can pull of the upset they will do something the school has never done.
“We hope to put on a show and beat St. Joseph Ogden for the first time in school history,” Hess said
You can contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@Rantoulpress.com or on twitter @RyanBirchRP