The battle of Illinois 73 featured the EPC Wildcatz hosting the Lena-Winslow Panthers in Pearl City. Coming off an unfamiliar 3-6 season in 2015, the Catz were looking forward to their home opener against the Lena-Winslow Panthers, who came into the game as the preseason #4 ranked team in Class 1A.
The game started off in typical old rival fashion with each team going 3 and out on their first possession of the game. On the Catz 2nd offensive series, they started with the ball on their own 32 yard line and quickly made their way down the field, capping the almost 4 minute drive with a 21 yard TD run by Keegan Schubert. On the extra point try, QB Brighton Haverland found Skyler Fischer open in the end zone for a successful 2 point conversion, giving EPC the early 8-0 lead with 4:29 left to play in the 1st quarter. Le-Win would get the ball on their own 37 yard line. On the ensuing play, Le-Win half back Rhaveon Valentine would run the ball up the middle, but the Catz defensive front broke through and forced a fumble that they would recover on Le-Win's 38 yard line. EPC would drive the ball down to the Panther's 10 yard line before the Panther defense stiffened up and stopped EPC on 4th down to get the ball back after a turnover on downs.
The Panther's would make EPC pay quickly, as Le-Win QB Tanner Lawfer dropped back to pass and found Valentine over the middle for a 90 yard quick strike for a Panther TD. On the extra point try, Lawfer would find Lingle in the endzone to tie the game up at 8 a piece. EPC would start another drive with 31 seconds left in the 1st quarter and end the drive in the endzone once again early in the 2nd quarter on a 5 yard TD run by Jayden Kempel. The extra point attempt failed giving the Catz a 14-8 lead. Late in the 2nd quarter, the Catz forced Le-Win to punt, but the punt return was muffed and the Panther's Ian Keuhl jumped on the ball at EPC's 42 yard line. The Panther's would then drive the ball to EPC's 14 yard line, where they would end up turning the ball over on downs.
The 3rd quarter would continue seeing a defensive struggle between the two teams. With 4:58 left to play in the 3rd quarter, the Catz would break through for another score by Schubert on a 13 yard TD run. The extra point would fail leaving the score at 20-8, where it would remain the same starting the 4th quarter.
At the 10:51 mark of the 4th quarter, Le-Win would answer with a 72 yard pass play from Lawfer to Trey Chenong. Le-Win would miss their extra point try and bring them within a score, trailing 20-14. At the 6:02 mark in the 4th quarter Le-Win had the ball on their own 14 yard line and would drive to their own 26 before disaster struck. Lingle took the ball on the hand off and ran to his left, where he would meet a host of Catz that forced a fumble that EPC would recover. EPC would put the nail in the coffin and capitalize on this turnover quickly as Schubert would burst into the end zone for his 3rd trip to pay dirt on the night on a 3 yard dive. The two point try was successful as Haverland rolled out to his right and decided to keep it on a 3 yard scamper to give the Catz a 28-14 lead. Le-Win then went into desperation mode, forcing Lawfer to throw an interception to who else, but Schubert. EPC would then go into the victory formation to seal the game.
In the game, I had Keegan Schubert for 25 carries and 148 yards with 3 TD's and the 1 INT on defense, clearly running away with player of the game. Brighton Haverland was 3-6 passing for 57 yards and had 8 rushes for 26 yards. His play on defense at defensive end was excellent, as his pass rush caused a lot of havoc in Le-Win's backfield. Jayden Kempel finished the night with 7 carries for 17 yards and a TD. EPC finished with 197 yards rushing and 57 yards passing for 254 yards of total offense. Defensively, the twin towers of Addison Keltner and Peyton Asche at both defensive tackles clogged the line of scrimmage and gave Le-Win problems all night running the ball.
For Le-Win, I had Rhaveon Valentine with 16 carries for 41 yards 1 fumble and 2 receptions for 90 yards and a TD. Tanner Lawfer was 4-10 passing for 166 yards 2 TD and 1 INT. Peydon Lingle would finish with 8 carries for 28 yards and a fumble. Trey Chenong had 1 reception for 72 yards and 1 TD. On the night Le-Win finished with 66 yards rushing and 166 yards passing for 232 yards of offense.
Le-Win vs Pecatonica
EPC @ West Carroll