OTTAWA — Michael Hermosillo stole J.D. Bryant’s glory.
Bryant, a senior running back on the Ottawa football team, ran 60 yards during a second-quarter play in Friday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division game against Dixon but couldn’t outrun the last Dixon defender and was tackled 10 yards from the end zone.
After Bryant did all the heavy lifting, Hermosillo finished the drive as on the next play he ran for a touchdown that was so close to being Bryant’s.
“If only I had a little more speed I could’ve finished that one off,” Bryant joked. “But Michael is a real good athlete and we’re real close so I had to give him a hard time. He told me, ‘Hey, thanks for the 60 yards. I’m going to punch it in real quick.’”
Turns out, Friday was a night full of fun for Ottawa.
Hermosillo ran for a game-high 136 yards and five touchdowns — all in the first half — and had an interception on defense as the Pirates dethroned the Dukes 51-14 on Senior Night.
“People probably assumed we’d overlook Dixon, but it’s a conference game and we handle every conference game the same way,” said Bryant, who ran for 98 yards. “We come out and come out hard. We kind of overlooked Geneseo and it came back to bite us so we took this game serious.”
After hard-fought, emotional victories over Sycamore and Geneseo the past two weeks, the Pirates (7-0, 3-0 NIB 12 West) had little trouble dispatching the Dukes (0-7, 0-3 NIB 12 West) on Friday.
After forcing Dixon to go three-and-out on the game’s first drive, Ottawa received possession at its 28-yard line.
A 16-yard run by Hermosillo set up the senior’s 12-yard touchdown run that gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead.
Midway through the quarter, Hermosillo added a 42-yard touchdown run that gave Ottawa a 14-0 cushion with 5:19 left.
After both teams traded possessions, Ottawa downed its only punt of the game at Dixon’s 1-yard line.
Two plays later, Dukes sophomore quarterback J.D. Gieson was sacked in the end zone for a safety that gave the Pirates a 16-0 lead with 1:01 left in the opening quarter.
Ottawa then returned the kickoff to Dixon’s 30-yard line, and Hermosillo needed just one play to find paydirt and give the Pirates a 23-0 cushion with 43.9 seconds left in the first quarter.
“It was a situation where we needed to come out, get on them in the first quarter and let them know it wasn’t going to be a ball game and try to finish it out as best and as safe as we could,” Ottawa coach Trent Swords said.
Hermosillo increased the Pirates’ lead when he scored on a 15-yard run with 9:11 left in the second quarter to give Ottawa a 30-0 lead.
Late in the quarter, Ottawa received possession at its 30-yard line with 1:45 left before half.
Bryant’s 60-yard scamper to the 10-yard line set up Hermosillo’s fifth touchdown of the half and gave the Pirates a 37-0 advantage at halftime.
The five rushing TDs by Hermosillo matches his single-game career high that he set in the season opener against Yorkville.
With the big lead, Hermosillo didn’t return to the game in the second half but Ottawa’s offensive prowess did.
Senior fullback Alex Hartman capped a five-play, 58-yard drive with an 8-yard TD run that gave the Pirates a 44-0 lead with 9:48 left in the third quarter and invoked the running clock the rest of the game.
Dixon running back Justin White added two second-half touchdown runs, while Ottawa backup quarterback Carter Krause scored on a 3-yard run.
“There were some things we didn’t execute as well as we would’ve liked, and at times there was just a little lack of focus for various reasons,” Swords said. “But I think when we did do stuff we were efficient. We took care of the ball, took care of our assignments and executed.”
In all, the Ottawa offense gained 353 yards on the ground and 399 yards of total offense, while in the first half against Ottawa’s starting defense, Dixon managed just 41 yards rushing and 132 yards of offense.
Note: The Pirates swept the night as the sophomore squad beat Dixon 38-6.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.