In late October you begin to feel that cool, crisp weather come in, and on a very still night under the lights the excitement of an NUIC North showdown between the Panthers and the Rivermen was about to get underway. Le-Win entered the game ranked #1 in state, and heavily favored over the Rivermen. Du-Pec was not going to back down as they wanted to show what type of mettle they have.
It wouldn't take long for this game to look out of control early on. Forcing the Rivermen to punt quickly on their first possession, the Panthers took 3 plays to score, with a drive that started at their own 10 yard line. A 2 yard run by Sean Ormiston, followed by a 1 yard run from Isaiah Bruce set the Panthers up with a 3rd and 7 from their own 13 yard line. Then like a cannon going off, the Panthers lined up in a strong right wing T formation, and the ball went to Bruce on a buck sweep to the right. Reading a block while cutting up field he was able to get to the sideline and out ran everyone chasing him down for an 87 yard touchdown run. After the two point try was blown dead when the play clearly looked it was still developing, the refs had a huddle and offered a redo. On the 2nd attempt, Le-Win would score the two point conversion for a quick 8-0 lead.
Less than 3 minutes later, and after forcing another Du-Pec punt, the Panthers didn't have far to travel starting the drive at the Rivermen 43 yard line. After a couple run plays, quarterback Luke Benson dropped back and found Marey Roby over the the middle down the seam for a 25 yard touchdown pass. The two point try was good as Le-Win took a 16-0 lead with 6:21 remaining in the 1st quarter.
Not even two minutes later, the Panthers would score again, this time on a 63 yard touchdown pass from Benson to Roby. After the two point try was good, the score was 24-0 with 4:41 to go in the first.
The Rivermen would respond, as quarterback Hunter Hoffman connected with Gabe Howard for a big 56 yard pass play that moved Du-Pec deep into Panther terriotry. A short while later Hoffman would connect with Trevon Stifter for an 8 yard touchdown pass. The Tyler Kormoczy kick was good, as Du-Pec cut into the lead, 24-7 with 1:56 left in the 1st quarter.
On the ensuing drive, the Panthers would start from their own 29 yard line, work their way out to their own 45 yard line, but would end up facing a 4th and 6 from their own 44 yard line. Sticking with what he believes, Coach Arand elected to go for it from his own 44 yard line, but the Rivermen defense would stick Ormiston for a yard gain to force a turnover on downs.
The Rivermen went to work quickly as Hoffman connected with Grant McCallips for a 12 yard gain, and on the very next play he caught the Panther defense sleeping as they bit on a fake quick out pass, as Howard went deep. Needing to slow up to catch the ball at the 15 yard line, he had enough time to recover and still get in the endzone untouched. Kormoczy would add another extra point, as Du-Pec closed the gap to 24-14 with 10:54 to go until halftime.
That is when things began to go heavily in favor of Le-Win, as Ormiston picked up his first rushing touchdown of the night with 6:10 to go in the 2nd quarter, and then Roby added his third touchdown of the night, first on the ground, as Le-Win took a 38-14 lead into the half.
There were some fireworks early in the 3rd quarter, as Le-Win would fumble the ball away on a run up the middle that was recovered by Gabe Howard. Another big connection from Hoffman to Howard had the Rivermen inside the Le-Win 10, but the very next play saw Hoffman try to go to the endzone on a post pattern from the left side and Le-Win DB Jensen Block was there to pick it off.
Not to get settled, the Rivermen would force another Le-Win fumble, this time it was recovered by Carson Leman. The Rivermen would move the ball to the 8 yard line, where they would be stopped. A 25 yard field goal attempt by Kormoczy just missed to the left, as the Rivermen couldn't convert.
From there the Panthers would tack on 2 more touchdowns from Ormiston and Jack Setterstrom to take a commanding 52-14 lead with 8:36 to play in the game. The Rivermen wouldn't stop fighting though, as they drove down the field and scored, as Trenton Taylor put the final points on the board with an 18 yard touchdown run. The extra point by Kormoczy brought us to our final score, where Le-Win won 52-21 to claim their 4th undefeated regular season in school history.
For the game, Le-Win gained 559 yards of offense with 428 yards rushing and 131 yards passing. Du-Pec had 246 yards of total offense, with 235 yards passing and 11 yards rushing.
Le-Win was led by Isaiah Bruce, who carried the ball 10 times for 178 yards and 1 touchdown. Marey Roby scored 3 touchdowns on the night with 44 yards rushing and 87 yards receiving. Sean Ormiston would break 4,000 career yards on the night, as he finished with 92 yards on 20 carries with 2 touchdowns. Jack Setterstrom would run the ball for 84 yards and 1 score. Luke Benson was 5-7 passing for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns.
For the Rivermen, Hunter Hoffman was 16-32 for 235 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Gabe Howard hauled in 7 passes for 165 yards and 1 touchdown, while Trevon Stifter hauled in 5 passes for 57 yards and a score. Trenton Taylor led the ground attack with 34 yards rushing and 1 score.
Both of these teams will wait to hear their names called for the selection process to find out who they will play in round 1. Le-Win will be in class 1A, where they are looked at as a favorite to win the state title. Despite being 6-3, Du-Pec has a shot at hosting a playoff game as they will be in the class 3A playoffs. The last time Durand or Pecatonica have hosted a playoff game came back in 2005, when Pecatonica won their only playoff game in school history with a 24-7 win over Galena.
Tune into our annual playoff show on our YouTube channel at 7:30 pm as we begin to break down potential matchups, announce the brackets, and then present our predictions. We will also be answering any questions you may have.