PEKIN 42, OAK FOREST 6
That's the best way to describe the Pekin football team's first-string offense, which scored on all six of its possessions Friday night in the Dragons' 42-6 shellacking of Oak Forest in a season opener at Memorial Stadium.
Most of the second half of the non-conference game was played with a running clock.
Oak Forest has a proud football tradition. The Bengals have made the IHSA playoffs 17 consecutive seasons and have 17 starters returning.
None of that mattered Friday.
"We came in with the energy and effort we needed to beat them," said Pekin coach Doug Nutter. "Our guys did an excellent job executing our game plan. We weren't perfect, but everything went well."
Pekin's Brayden Cruz scored three touchdowns on runs of 3, 2 and 8 yards.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior rushed for 98 yards on 16 carries. He put on a great display of strength and balance on one run, using his outstretched arm to prevent himself from hitting the ground as he was being tackled.
Dragons quarterback Quinn Theleritis was 12-for-15 passing for 261 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 10-yard score that gave Pekin a 42-0 lead with 7:22 left in the third quarter and started the running clock.
Theleritis connected with Brad Johnson on a perfectly thrown 47-yard scoring pass on the first play of the second quarter and with Christian Hill on a 70-yard catch-and-run TD pass in the third quarter.
Johnson had three catches for 81 yards and Hill had three catches for 93 yards.
"We took care of the ball on offense. We didn't have any turnovers," Nutter said.
Johnson, a 6-3, 195-pound senior wide receiver, said he wasn't surprised by the offense's sharpness on opening night.
"We worked hard all summer. We were ready to go, and we did everything we wanted to do," he said.
On the touchdown pass from his longtime friend Theleritis, Johnson said, "Quinn threw the ball perfectly. He gave me time to get underneath it."
Nutter praised Pekin's offensive line.
It was a new-look line, with three players -- left tackle Andrew Krahn, center Derek Brown and right tackle Chase Gann -- making their varsity debuts.
Left guard Dylan Dilkey and right guard Adam King had gotten some previous varsity snaps.
King stepped in at the last minute for Ethan Trumpy, who suffered a hamstring injury in practice and was still hoping to play during pre-game warm-ups.
Perkin's offense was a picture of efficiency.
It ran just 39 plays and its time of possession was 18:59. Oak Forest ran 52 plays and had the ball for 29:01.
Pekin placekicker Nathan Righi was 6-for-6 on PATs. Snapper Brian O'Shaughnessy and holder Braden Lavin also deserve credit for Righi's perfect night.
Defensively, linebacker Logan Howell had six solo tackles and three assists and linebacker Brett Lutz had five solos for the Dragons.
"Our defense was great," Nutter said. "All 11 players were swarming to the ball."
Nutter said the defensive front five of tackles Zack Pawelczak and Gavin Reese, nose guard Michael Pruitt and outside linebackers Jack Maple and Lutz did their job, controlling the line of scrimmage.
It was a long night for Oak Forest, and not just because of the round-trip from the Chicago suburbs.
This is Brian McDonough's 21st year as the Bengals' coach. He can't remember another game during his tenure in which Oak Forest was on the wrong end of a running clock.
"We didn't play well," McDonough said. "We normally drive the ball and we didn't do it. Pekin is a good team. We think we're a good team, too. We'll go back to work. We're confident we can make it 18 straight years in the playoffs."
Oak Forest started the game by recovering an onside kick on the Pekin 44-yard line.
But the Bengals' drive stalled on the Pekin 7 and the Dragons marched 93 yards on 14 plays, scoring on a 3-yard run by Cruz with 2:53 left in the first quarter.
"That's not the way we wanted to start the 2017 season, by losing the ball on a squib kick," Nutter said. "But our defense stepped up and got the ball back."
McDonough agreed the early momentum swing made a difference in the game.
"We got down to their 7 and couldn't score, they drove the ball back down the field on us and we didn't respond," he said.
Oak Forest's lone score was a 15-yard run by quarterback Tyler Morrison with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
Steve Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.
By the numbers
Significant numbers from the Pekin-Oak Forest football game.
• 0 -- Neither team committed a turnover.
• 1 -- Pekin punter Nathan Righi needed to punt only once, and it was in the fourth quarter. The boot went for 39 yards.
• 3.0 -- Oak Forest averaged just 3.0 yards per rush.
• 9.9 -- Pekin's offense averaged 9.9 yards per play.
• 19 -- Pekin had 19 first downs.
• 25 -- Oak Forest running back Waitari Mason ran for 25 yards on his first carry, but only 27 yards on his next seven attempts as Pekin's defense clamped down on him.