Illinois-Chicago basketball signee Robert Kreps had nine catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns as Maroa-Forsyth defeated Westville 43-22 Friday in the Class 2A state football championship in Champaign to win its first state football title .
"I practice using my basketball moves on the football field -- spins and jab steps,'' said Kreps, who will play point guard for Flames coach Jimmy Collins. "I'll miss playing football, but I'm glad I came through without getting injured. Basketball is my favorite sport."
"He definitely makes me look good," Maroa quarterback Luke Hockaday said.
Maroa (14-0) outscored Westville (13-1) 29-8 in the second half after being tied 14-14 at halftime---the first time all season an opponent had been that close. Hockaday was 17-of-26 passing for 216 yards and three TDs. Westville's Caleb Pratt rushed for 158 yards and one touchdown while teammate Eli Williams was credited with 16 tackles.
"Yeah, there was some nervousness at halftime,'' said Hockaday, whose team scored 50 points or more seven times this season and never trailed in any game. "It's not like we were playing for a state championship or anything.''
Three Maroa-Forsyth players scored two touchdowns each and the Trojans converted two interceptions and a fumble into scores to win their first-ever state title in their 12th playoff appearance.
Shane Conaway, Kreps and Justin Barnes each scored twice for Maroa, which broke the game open with two fourth-quarter TDs after Westville had closed to within 28-22 with 10:06 to go.
Westville (13-1) fell behind 7-0 when Hockaday found Kreps for a 43-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The Tigers battled back to tie the score 14-14 by halftime, but watched the game get away after Maroa-Forsyth scored twice in the third quarter to take a 28-14 lead.
Conaway scored on a 7-yard run to cap a 9-play 53-yard drive to take a 21-14 lead. Then linebacker Beau Sullivan intercepted Jacob Attutis' pass on Westville's first play in the ensuing series and Hockaday found Kreps from 27 yards out five plays later.
The Tigers came back with a 12-play, 65-yard drive and cut the margin to 28-22 after Attutis scored from 1-yard out and found Pratt for a 2-point conversion.
But Conaway scored on a 1-yard run and, after Tory Stepney intercepted an Attutis pass, Hockaday found Barnes from 2-yards out to put the game away.
Pratt carried 25 times for 158 yards and scored a touchdown for Westville, which made its first title game appearance. Attutis was 6-of-15 for 115 yards, including a 38-yard TD pass to Jordan Barney.
Westville had four turnovers, two fumbles and two interceptions; Maroa scored after three of them.
"Turnovers are huge at any level of football," said Maroa-Forsyth coach Josh Jostes. "We put the throttle down and go for the jugular and we had a couple nice plays after (Westville) turnovers."
One of those was a reverse play immediately after recovering a Westville fumble that resulted in the Trojans' second touchdown. Hockaday handed the ball to Conaway, who handed to Barnes coming the other way; Barnes ran untouched 44 yards to put Maroa-Forsyth up 14-6 with 15 seconds to play in the first quarter.
"We were underdogs, so to speak," said Westville coach Guy Goodlove. "I think we gave them everything they asked for."
Associated Press contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times