BELOIT - An early-season victory over highly-regarded Edgerton put Evansville's football team directly in everyone's sights.
It hasn't mattered much because if you're taking marksmen, there hasn't been a better one in the Rock Valley Conference than Blue Devils' junior quarterback Tyr Severson.
Ask Beloit Turner. The Trojans have a fine passer of their own in Kenny Draeving who helped them put up 35 points on Friday night. That didn't even keep them in the game as Severson completed 13-of-24 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns and Evansville improved to 4-0 with a 51-35 victory.
"He's a gunslinger and he has receivers who can go get it," Turner head coach Derek Diehl said of Severson. "I was impressed with the quarterback play from both teams."
The Trojans put up 23 first downs and 441 yards of total offense, but Diehl pointed out that their up-and-down start alllowed the Blue Devils to take a 30-0 lead.
"We stalled too much in the first half," Diehl said. "We had a lot of good execution, but you have to make the plays on third down. I could tell from the start that Evansville was all business and we weren't focused yet. They have that little extra grit and finished their plays while we fell short on ours and that was the difference. I think we're capable, but we're not there yet."
After an 86-yard drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Matt Forster, Severson ran for the conversion.
The Blue Devils were just getting started as Severson hit Sulley Geske with TD passes of 24 and 25 yards and Mason Young bulled in from the 2-yard line for a 30-0 lead.
"We put in a great game plan," Severson said. "We knew we had some great receivers and we could just throw it out there and they'd go get it. I've got to give credit to my offensive line. I couldn't have done that without them. They gave me a lot of time and gave those receivers time to break open downfield."
Down 30-0, Turner finally got a spark when 6-foot-6 senior Dai'Vontrelle Strong returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards for a touchdown and Ismeal Lopez booted the extra point.
"Maquire Kurth threw a big block on that, taking his man to the ground and that helped spring me," Strong said.
After Treveon Bivens intercepted a pass near midfield, Turner took advantage and with the clock winding down in the half Draeving scored on a 5-yard burst. Lopez added the PAT to make it 30-14.
"It was kind of a wake-up call for us that we couldn't get complacent," Severson said. "We had to keep doing what we do and not give up."
They did, opening the second half with a four-play drive covering 66 yards that Severson capped with a 21-yard TD pass to Geske. Forster's PAT made it 37-14.
The Trojans answered with a 27-yard strike from Draeving to Mickey Burrows, but an onside kick backfired with Evansville ending up with the ball at the Turner 38. Geske's 21-yard reception set up a 2-yard TD run by Forster, who then booted the PAT for a 43-21 advantage.
Forster added another TD on defense, returning an interception 85 yards as he stiff-armed several Trojans along the way. His PAT made it 51-21. Forster finished the game scoring 31 points on four TDs, a two-point conversion and five PATs.
Turner tacked on a pair of consolation scores in the fourth quarter. Draeving scored the first on a 1-yard dive and then pitched the ball into the end zone on the run to Jordan Majeed for the two-point conversion.
Draeving took off on a fourth down play from the 14 and scored the final touchdown of the long night with 1:16 left to play for the 51-35 final score.
Despite the loss, Strong said the Trojans should be able to bounce back rather easily.
"We stayed together as a team throughout the game and I think that will help," he said. "We knew Evansville was going to be very good and they were. But we put up 35 points and we should be able to keep doing that every week."
EVANSVILLE 51, BELOIT TURNER 35
Evansville..8 22 21 0 - 51.
Beloit Turner.0 14 7 14 - 35
Ev--Matt Forster, 5, run (Tyr Severson run)
Ev--Sulley Geske, 24, pass from Severson (Forster run)
Ev--Geske, 25, pass from Severson (Forster kick)
Ev--Forster, 2, run (Forster kick)
BT--Dai'Vontrelle Strong, 58, kickoff return (Ismeal Lopez kick)
BT--Draeving, 2, run (Lopez kick)
Ev--Geske, 21, pass from Severson (Forster kick)
BT--Mickey Burrows, 27, pass from Kenny Draeving (Lopez kick)
Ev-- Forster, 2, run (Forster kick)
Ev --Forster, 85, interception return (Forster kick)
BT--Draeving, 1, run (Jordan Majeed, pass from Draeving)
BT--Draeving, 14, run (pass failed)
TEAM STATS: First downs: Ev 16, BT 23. Rushing: Ev 27-141, BT 33-180. Passing: Ev 301, BT 261. Passes: Ev 24-13-1. BT 33-20-2. Punts: Ev 1-31, BT 1-27.0. Fumbles: Ev 1-0, BT, 0-0. Penalties: Ev 1-15, BT 3-35.
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS: Rushing: Ev, Carson Hill 7-69. BT: Draeving 14-98, Colton Crall 14-73. Passing: Ev, Severson 24-13-1, 301. BT, Draeving 33-20-2, 261. Receiving: Ev, Hill 4-108, Geske 5-102, Seth Maag 4-91. BT, Strong 8-90, Grant Revels 6-104, M. Burrows 4-51.