Week 7: Du-Pec vs Le-Win
The NUIC Game of the Year lived up to the hype as Du-Pec walks out the victor, 30-24
Lena - When the 2021 football schedule was released, every fan of the NUIC had October 8th circled on the calendar, as many people expected to see Le-Win and Du-Pec at the top of the standings entering this week 7 matchup. As anticipated, both teams came into the game with perfect records in conference play, with Du-Pec's only loss coming in week 5 to non-conference opponent St. Teresa.
The Rivermen would begin the game with the ball, and would waste little time getting things moving. Hunter Hoffman would pick up 8 yards on the ground, and 17 yards through the air on a connection to Trent Hetland. Bryce Fitzanko would rush for 6 yards on the drive. Hoffman would be sacked for a 3 yard loss, but he would come back with a 38 yard TD connection to Hetland to put the first points on the board with 9:02 to play in the 1st quarter. Trenton Taylor would add the 2 point try for an early 8-0 lead.
The Du-Pec defense would greet the Panther offense with a lot of intensity, as they swarmed the rushing attack of Le-Win, only allowing 11 yards on the drive before forcing the Panthers to punt.
Taking over at their own 27 yard line, the Rivermen would pick up 25 yards on the ground from Taylor, and Hoffman would connect with Hetland on two different plays for a combined 23 yards. Entering the 2nd quarter Hoffman would drop back and find Bo Seaton on a post pattern for a 14 yard TD connection. The extra point failed, but Du-Pec extended their lead to 14-0 with 11:15 left in the 2nd quarter.
Both teams would exchange punts as Du-Pec would regain possession with 5:03 left in the half from their own 14 yard line. Propelled by a 12 yard run by AJ Mulcahy, then a 19 yard run by Hoffman on a broken play, followed by a 13 yard shuffle pass to Hetland, the Rivermen were moving. A pass play from Hoffman to Fitzanko netted 12 yards, followed by another 13 yard connection to Hetland. It appeared that Du-Pec would score on a pass play to the back corner of the end zone as Hoffman connected with Fitzanko, but the play was called out of bounds. Not too long later Hoffman would connect with Seaton again for a 12 yard scoring connection. Taylor would once again add the 2 point try to give the Rivermen a 22-0 lead with 0:58 left before the half. After the play, Du-Pec was penalized for a personal foul, setting them back 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff.
That would prove to be a momentum shifting penalty, as Le-Win would begin their final drive of the half at midfield. Getting some momentum behind runs by Marey Roby who would rush the ball 3 times for 19 yards to set up at the Du-Pec 31 yard line. With seconds left on the clock, Luke Benson would take the snap, drop back and roll left and heave a pass to the end zone. Du-Pec's Seaton was there for the interception, but Brody Mahon stayed with the play and ripped the ball away for the Le-Win score as time expired. Ethan Fye added the 2 point conversion as Le-Win cut the deficit to 22-8 entering the half.
Receiving the second half kickoff, Le-Win went to work, and had the momentum going in their favor. Getting the ground game going behind Roby and Fye, along with some added runs by Jake Zeal propelled the Panthers into he red zone. At the 8:09 mark of the 3rd quarter Roby would bust in from 4 yards out to score. Benson would connect with Mahon for the 2 point conversion as Le-Win cut the score to 22-16 in favor of Du-Pec.
The Rivermen would begin to answer back, as a 30 yard run by Taylor pushed Du-Pec into Le-Win territory. Ultimately, the drive would make it to the Le-Win 20 yard line before penalties moved it back and the Panthers forced a turnover on downs at their own 25 yard line with 3:25 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Le-Win would go on the attack, as Fye ripped off a 30 yard run to put the Panthers at the Du-Pec 45 yard line. The drive would pick up in the 4th quarter, as Du-Pec held the 22-16 advantage, but the Panther run game continued to churn out yards. Facing a 4th and 8 at the Du-Pec 21 yard line, the Panthers called a pass play as Roby snuck out of the backfield to his left on a bootleg play to the right and was wide open down the left seam. Benson connected with him in the back of the end zone for the score with 10:38 left in the game. Brady Eilders would add the 2 point try to give Le-Win the lead 24-22.
The Rivermen would get a kick return to their own 45 yard line to set up their 2nd possession of the 2nd half with 10:35 left in the game. Hoffman would go to the air on connections with Hetland and Seaton. Taylor would keep the ground game going as he picked up 27 yards across 6 carries. Knocking on the door at the 1 yard line the Rivermen would come out in the Wildcat formation as Taylor would take the direct snap for the 1 yard score. Taylor would add the 2 point conversion on the exact same play as Du-Pec went back into the lead 30-24 with 5:36 left to play.
Beginning the drive at the Rivermen 48 yard line, it appeared that Le-Win would keep their momentum going, but the Rivermen defense stood tall on the run defense and forced some errant throws to force the Panthers to turn the ball over on downs with 2:12 left in the game.
Du-Pec would try running the ball to run out the clock, but Le-Win had some timeouts left to burn, which led to the Rivermen being forced to punt the ball with just over a minute left.
Getting the ball back with 1:04 left in the game, and 67 yards to go, the Panthers went to work. An 8 yard run by Roby and a 15 yard pass from Benson to Mahon would put them at the Du-Pec 44 yard line. A fumbled snap to stop the clock led to another play to spike the ball to stop the clock. On the ensuing play, Benson dropped back and looked for Eilders, but Taylor stepped in front of the pass for the interception to seal the game as Du-Pec went into victory formation for the win.
Le-Win was led by Marey Roby, who had 63 yard rushing with a score, and added 22 yards receiving for another score. Ethan Fye had 72 yards rushing, while Brady Eilders and Jake Zeal each picked up 15 yards on the ground. Luke Benson went 4-8 passing for 68 yards and 2 TD's, as Brody Mahon hauled in 2 passes for 46 yards and a score.
The Rivermen were led by Hunter Hoffman, who went 19-23 passing for 193 yards and 3 TD's. Trenton Taylor would run the ball for 107 yards and a score. Trent Hetland picked up 12 receptions for 138 yards and a TD, while Bo Seaton hauled in 4 passes for 39 yards and 2 TD's.
Le-Win (6-1) will go on the road to face Stockton (3-4) and look to get back on track.
Du-Pec (6-1) clinched a playoff berth and will return home for a game with Galena (4-3) as the Rivermen look to increase their playoff seeding.