Week 5: St. Teresa vs Du-Pec
St. Teresa rushes for 324 yards on a wet night while holding off the Rivermen 28-22
Pecatonica - The pre-game festivities went on as they do every game night in Pecatonica, but despite a consistent rain you could feel the excitement, energy, and intensity that this game brought. It wasn't your typical homecoming game, where you schedule it around an almost guaranteed win to give your fans and alumni a reason to celebrate.
Instead, as Du-Pec faced a cancellation of their game with Urbana, they could have went ahead with the forfeit win to become playoff eligible, but they scheduled a game mid-week. The opponent happened to be the #1 ranked team in Class 2A, the St. Teresa Bulldogs led by Hall of Fame head coach Mark Ramsey. The Bulldogs were also scheduled to play their own homecoming game against Clinton, however due to COVID protocols Clinton had to cancel leaving St. Teresa without a week 5 opponent. This would be the biggest game that Pecatonica has seen, and most likely the biggest game for Du-Pec in its short history.
Twitter blew up with openings, and even high school football forums began the chatter; will Du-Pec and St. Teresa meet up, albeit most of the noise was in response to if Du-Pec, or the NUIC for that matter, had the gall to take on the South favorite to reach DeKalb in Class 2A. That became an emphatic yes when Pecatonica administration were able to get a referee crew put together and both teams agreed to an 8:00 pm kickoff in Pecatonica.
The host Rivermen would win the opening toss, and elected to defer to the second half. The Bulldogs took that opportunity to receive the kick and try to get on the board first. After 6 plays and 1 first down, the Rivermen forced the Bulldogs to punt.
The Rivermen would open their first series from their own 27 yard line, and on the first play of the game they tried to go deep as Hunter Hoffman threw the ball to the left sideline for Trent Hetland, but the play was nearly intercepted and broken up by Tyriq Cole. On the very next play Trenton Taylor would take the give up the middle, cut outside to his left and upfield for a huge 55 yard gain as the stands got electric. Two plays later Taylor would get the ball again for a 14 yard gain and a first down, which put the Rivermen at the Bulldog 4 yard line. AJ Mulcahy would move the ball to the 1 yard line, and then Taylor would take the give for the score with 7:34 remaining in the first quarter. The 2 point try failed, as the Bulldog defense stuffed Taylor up the middle, but Du-Pec had a 6-0 lead.
St. Teresa would start their next drive at their own 40 yard line. They would run the ball with their work horse Denim Cook. A Joe Brummer to Thomas Pokrzywinski pass was completed for 16 yards and moved St. Teresa into Du-Pec territory. A pass from Brummer to Cook went 6 yards, but it wasn't enough as the Bulldogs would turn the ball over on downs.
On the ensuing Du-Pec drive, Hoffman would keep the ball for a 9 yard gain, followed by a 22 yard run by Taylor. Two plays later Mulcahy broke free for a 19 yard run, followed by a 3 yard run as the Rivermen were knocking on the door again at the Bulldog 4 yard line. A wildcat formation play saw Taylor take the snap and get swarmed up by the Bulldog defense, led by Christion Harper. The very next play saw Hoffman get sacked by Harper for a 7 yard loss, pushing the Rivermen back to the 15 yard line. A 4th down pass play to Bo Seaton was broken up as the Rivermen failed to convert for the score and turn the ball over on downs.
With just 28 seconds remaining in the first quarter, St. Teresa would give the ball to Harper for a 4 yard gain, which would be the final play of the first quarter with Du-Pec up 6-0.
Opening up the 2nd quarter, Cook would carry the ball twice for 7 yards, and then on the next play he would get a sweep to his left and break free, as nobody was going to catch him in the open field as he raced down the left sideline for a 72 yard TD run. Billy Guyse would add the PAT kick to give St. Teresa a 7-6 lead with 10:42 remaining until halftime.
The Bulldogs would force the Rivermen to punt from their own 36 yard line on their next possession, but the punt would go out of bounds at the Rivermen 44 yard line for an 8 yard punt, setting up St. Teresa with great field position. The very first play for St. Teresa resulted in a pass interference call on Du-Pec, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Rivermen 29 yard line. Cook would take the ball for a couple carries before Brummer would connect with Tre Spence on a 10 yard pass play. Two plays later it would be Harper taking the handoff on a sweep left and cutting up for a 4 yard plunge and score. Guyse would add the PAT to give the Bulldogs a 14-6 lead with 5:00 left in the half.
The Rivermen would turn the ball over on downs at the Bulldog 46 yard line with 2:52 left in the half. The very first play would see Brummer connect with Harper on the left sideline as Harper raced his way to the end zone on a 54 yard pitch and catch. The PAT kick missed, but St. Teresa was up 20-6, a lead that would hold headed to halftime.
The Rivermen would open the second half receiving the ball, and would start the drive at their own 36 yard line. A 15 yard run from Taylor would move the Rivermen to the St. Teresa 49 yard line. Back to back runs by Taylor and Hoffman netted a 5 yard loss forcing Du-Pec into a passing situation. Hoffman would be sacked by Justice Chapman for an 8 yard loss and on the following play Hoffman would throw an interception to Tre Spence, giving the Bulldogs the ball at their own 30 yard line with 9:21 to play in the 3rd quarter.
The Bulldogs would pick up 30 yards on runs by Cook, Brummer, and a pass completion from Brummer to Spence. Dropping back to pass again Brummer would be picked off by Trent Hetland who would go the distance for the 60 yard pick 6. Taylor would add the 2 point conversion to close the gap to 20-14 in favor of St. Teresa with 6:19 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
The following drive for St. Teresa would begin at their own 21 yard line, as Du-Pec had the momentum on their side. Behind runs from Cook and Harper the Bulldogs would move the ball to the Du-Pec 41 yard line. Brummer would try to connect with Zakhi Hayes, but that was incomplete. The next play Brummer would go to the air again, but the ball was under thrown as Bo Seaton came up with the interception and returned the ball to the St. Teresa 45 yard line.
The Rivermen would get the ground game going behind Taylor and Mulcahy, moving the ball to the Bulldog 15 yard line. An encroachment penalty would put the Rivermen at the 10 yard line, but a Taylor run that lost 5 yards followed by a 9 yard sack of Hoffman would force a turnover on downs at the Bulldog 24 yard line with 11:49 left in the game.
St. Teresa would go back to Cook, who quickly gained 13 yards on back to back carries. A 16 yard run by Pokrzywinski, followed by another run by Cook, and a 16 yard gain by Brycen Hendrix had the Bulldogs in Rivermen territory again. A sack by Jake Anderson and Briaun Green pushed the Bulldogs back 7 yards. That would be followed by an incomplete pass and then an 8 yard gain by Cook bringing up a 4th and 9. The Bulldogs would go for it as Brummer dropped back and rolled to his right, saw room in front of him, and took off for a 10 yard run and 1st down. Cook would carry the ball 3 times over the next 15 yards to score his second TD of the game. Going for the 2 point conversion, a Zakhi Hayes pass to Griffin Smith was good to give the Bulldogs a 28-14 lead with 6:11 left in the game.
The Rivermen would not go quietly into the night. Receiving the kickoff, they would return it to their own 46 yard line. Taylor would get the carry for a 2 yard gain to start the drive, but the very next play was a give to Taylor again up the middle, who would cut to his left and win a foot race down the left sideline for a 52 yard TD run. He would add the easy run up the middle for the 2 point conversion to cut the deficit to 28-22 with 5:20 left in the game.
It would end up being a little too late, however, as the Bulldogs would continue to feed Cook the ball and run out the clock before Brummer took the final knee with 27 seconds remaining to bring the game to an end.
Denim Cook would lead the way for the Bulldogs with 233 yards rushing on 36 attempts and 2 TD's. Christion Harper would add 22 yards rushing and 54 yards receiving for the other 2 Bulldog TD's. Joe Brummer was 6-13 passing for 90 yards and 1 TD. On defense, Harper led the attack with 12 tackles and 2 sacks for a loss of 13 yards. Justice Chapman would pick up 7 tackles and a sack, while Cook and Elijah Wills also registered sacks on defense.
The Rivermen were paced by Trenton Taylor who finished with 194 yards rushing and 2 TD's. AJ Mulcahy picked up 61 yards on the ground and led the Rivermen defense with 16 tackles. Trent Hetland had 8 tackles, with 2 tackles for a loss, and the pick 6. Kaden Degner also chipped in with 16 tackles for the Rivermen.
St. Teresa (5-0) will return home next week and play host to Madison (1-4) before they return to finish out their conference schedule before the playoffs.
Du-Pec (4-1) will have homecoming next week in Durand, and play host to Dakota (2-3) as they look to get win number 5 to become playoff eligible before their big week 7 showdown with Lena-Winslow.