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TAYLORVILLE — It was not supposed to go this way. 

The undefeated Taylorville offense, averaging more than 43 points per game, had been stopped in its tracks by Mount Zion. The Tornadoes were limited to one score in the first half and trailed 12-6 at halftime. 

Senior Tornadoes quarterback Brandon Odam wasn't going to let it stand. 

He gathered the team and spoke his mind at the intermission.  

"I chewed into them a lot and sat them down and told them that we are choking right now," Odam said. "Some of these kids haven't had that adversity and we kind of saw us falling apart before halftime.

"(The Braves) were eating the ball and taking a 10-minute drive and we were 3-and-out. I got into them and explained that we need to get back to playing Taylorville football and never quit.

"They got into the kill mode and I couldn't be more proud of them now."

The Tornadoes responded with 24 second-half points included three rushing TDs by Odam as Taylorville won 30-22. The win also gave Taylorville the outright Apollo Conference title, the 17th in school history. 

Taylorville coach Jeb Odam knew his team was going to take Brandon's words seriously. 

"Brandon's a pretty laid back guy and so when he speaks that forcefully people listen and so I think that was the turning point in the game tonight," he said. 

The first two quarters were all powered by Mount Zion running back Sage Davis. 

In the first half, he ran it 21 times for 140 yards and a touchdown. The Taylorville defense didn't seem to have an answer for him as it reached halftime. 

Davis finished the game with 209 yards on the ground, but was noticeably stifled in the second half by the Tornadoes adjustments.

"We moved up our linebackers and changed where they were coming from and doing some twisting and stunting up front," Jeb Odam said. 

Brandon Odam scored on runs of 15 and 3 yards in the third quarter as Taylorville took the lead 18-12. 

A 32-yard field goal by Mount Zion's Jayce Damarin made it 18-15, but Odam responded with his third touchdown run from five yards out to make is 24-15. 

As time ran down on the clock, senior running back Riley Buschon scored from four yards out to increase the Tornadoes' lead to 30-15. 

Mount Zion didn't give up, and in a matter of 40 seconds, quarterback Ashton Summers connected twice with receiver Drew London, then ran in the touchdown himself to make it 30-22. 

The ensuing onside kick looked to have been recovered by the Braves, but when the pile was pulled apart Taylorville had it, effectively ending the game.  

"I thought our kids played hard — our kids played well and they battled. At the end we had a chance to win the football game," Mount Zion coach Patrick Etherton said. "I feel like our kids had that onside kick to begin with, we ended up not getting it, but we would be down by eight with a chance to go down and score to tie it."

The Braves gave Taylorville its toughest game of the season. 

"This was the challenge we needed," Jeb Odam said. "We had to find guys who could step up in the second half, and we did."

Brandon Odam finished with four touchdowns, three on the ground and one through the air. He was 12-for-17 passing for 107 yards, and he ran for another 120 yards.

Taylorville (8-0, 6-0) finishes its regular season schedule hosting Civic Memorial next Friday. Mount Zion (5-3, 3-3) heads to Troy to play Triad in Week 9 with hopes of picking up that six win and guaranteeing a playoff berth.

"Our kids know that is a huge game," Etherton said. "They know that we probably don't have enough points to get in to the playoffs without that sixth win and we get to go down and play Troy, who is very good.

"Our kids will have a challenge but the way our kids played tonight and the way we have been playing it should be a good atmosphere and we are looking forward to it."


 

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Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten

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Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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