By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
CARROLLTON, Ill. -- Cole Phillips knew, win or lose, no trophy was at stake Friday night.
All the hype of two Class 1A state-ranked football teams battling it out for supremacy in the Western Illinois Valley Conference was of no concern to him either.
The Central quarterback/defensive back simply wanted to do his assignment.
"I don't think about the extracurriculars," Phillips said. "I go out and do my job, and the end result shows everything."
The end result for the third-ranked Panthers should speak loudly statewide. Central beat fourth-ranked Carrollton 33-0, limiting the Hawks to five first downs and 122 total yards.
"To come into an atmosphere like this against a caliber team of Carrollton and win this way shows what these guys have done," Panthers coach Brad Dixon said. "We told them all along how good they are, not because of who they are, but because of what they've done in the summertime. I think they are starting to believe that now."
Phillips swatted away the best opportunity WIVC South champion Carrollton (7-1) had to score. The Hawks chewed up nearly seven minutes to start the first quarter and moved the ball to the Panthers' 2-yard line. On fourth and goal, Carrollton quarterback Jerritt Smith tried a fade pass that Phillips jumped up and batted away.
WIVC North champion Central then took the ball 98 yards in 17 plays, scoring on a 4-yard run by Alger Saldana with 9 minutes, 58 seconds remaining before halftime to take a 7-0 lead.
"Our defense did great tonight," said Central fullback Bobby Keltz, who rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. "We wanted to limit the damage and I think we did that. In between the 20s, they can go as far as they want. When we get down to the red zone, we have to stop them, and we did that tonight."
Carrollton went three-and-out on its next possession and pinned Central (8-0) at its own 8-yard line. Austin Kramberg, who finished with 204 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 14 carries, led off the possession with a 26-yard run. That allowed the Panthers to continue to do what they wanted -- run the football.
Central ended the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by Keltz with 1:45 left before halftime and finished with 405 rushing yards.
"All credit to Brad Dixon and his staff, but they aren't that many points better than us," Carrollton coach Nick Flowers said. "We will bounce back from this. … There have been a lot of things with me being out last week and back this week (due to a medical issue). I'm not putting any excuses on that because they gave us a good old-fashioned butt-kicking this week."
Establishing Keltz in the first half paid dividends in the third quarter for Central. On two straight possessions, the Panthers started with three runs by Keltz that were followed immediately by a long touchdown run by Kramberg.
After he scored on a 56-yard run on Central's first possession after halftime, Kramberg scored again on a spectacular 66-yard run. He appeared to get pinned in heading toward the sideline, but Kramberg weaved through the Carrollton defense to put the Panthers ahead 26-0.
"They overpursued to the far left, and I cut back and followed my line," Kramberg said. "Our offensive line kept their heads down, stayed lowed and got a good push."
Phillips set up Central's last touchdown when he intercepted a pass late in the third quarter. Kramberg scored his final touchdown from 5 yards out.
Central didn't have to alter its game plan to score points.
"With what we showed tonight, we know what we're made of," Phillips said. "We know what we can do. It helps us out a lot."