CHURUBUSCO -- The wet, muddy and cold conditions were doubly beneficial for the Churubusco football team Friday night. On offense, Eagles running back Jason Nicodemus was more slippery, more elusive than usual. On defense, the Eagles used the conditions to help ground Oak Hill's great passing game.
The result was a dominant 38-14 Churubusco victory in a game of 8-1 teams.
The Eagles (9-1) advance to the second round of Class 2A Sectional 27 where they will travel to Elwood (8-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“I love this kind of football,” said Nicodemus after the game. “The sloppy field, everyone is muddy and wet. We are a hard-nosed football team, so when it's like this out, we are ready for it.”
Nicodemus scored five touchdowns, the first three coming on runs of 34, 2 and 67 yards. The final two, in the third quarter, came on catch-and-runs of 27 and 39 yards. On all but the 67-yard run, Nicodemus broke or eluded multiple tackles. The 34-yard score was a run of beauty and strength as he broke five tackles.
“They did a great job of running the ball, especially with Nicodemus,” said Oak Hill coach Bud Ozmun. “He's a great back and we knew that. We just couldn't stop him.”
Nicodemus rushed 20 times for 209 yards (183 in the first half) and caught two passes for 66 yards.
“He's an important part of our football team,” Churubusco coach Lee Etzler said of Nicodemus. “He's a strong kid, hard to tackle. His yards after contact tonight were incredible.”
Etzler agreed with his star running back about the weather.
“The last three weeks we've had weather (or field conditions) like this,” Etzler said. “We've grown to love it. The team was excited to be playing tonight in this.”
Not the same could be said for Oak Hill and its prolific passing game. If quarterback Derek Durkes wasn't slipping on his throws, then his receivers were falling on their routes. Of course, the Eagles defense blitzed Durkes on many occasions, recording two sacks and causing several unbalanced throws. And then there was Logan Harris.
“Logan Harris did a tremendous job on (Oak Hill receiver Matt McDivitt),” Etzler said of his junior defensive back. “(McDivitt) came in with over 800 yards receiving, and Logan played great.”
McDivitt caught six passes for just 50 yards and dropped two others because of timely hits by Harris.
Churubusco, with the three scoring runs by Nicodemus, led 18-7 at halftime.
The Eagles scored on their first two possessions of the second half (receptions by Nicodemus) and the defense remained stout. By early in the fourth quarter the Eagles led 38-7.