FOOTBALL: Blue Devils run away with Rumble on Route 50
Special to the Daily Journal
PEOTONE — Peotone knows football is a game won in the trenches, and the Blue Devils showed it Friday.
The Blue Devils dominated up front, which resulted in 332 rushing yards en route to a 33-13 senior night win against rival Manteno in a game known annually as the “Rumble on Route 50.”
Despite not scoring in the opening quarter, Peotone controlled the time of possession for 10 of the first 12 minutes of the game before Max Gessewein found paydirt on a 5-yard bootleg on the opening play of the second quarter.
Manteno responded, however, scoring on its second possession of the game, thanks to a 14-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Caleb Borkenhagen to Anthony Lopez to tie the game at 7-7.
That’s when Peotone put together the mother of all drives. The Blue Devils marched 77 yards on a whopping 22 plays that took more than eight minutes off the clock before tight end Logan Heflin scored from 6 yards out on a reverse with 13 seconds left in the half. Peotone converted three fourth-down conversions on the drive.
“If they don’t have the ball, they can’t score.” Blue Devils coach Tolly Tsiamas said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Manteno fumbled a bubble screen on their first play in the second half, and Heflin returned it 21 yards. That set up a bulldozing touchdown run by Ryan Brewer a few plays later.
Instead of kicking the ball deep to dynamic playmaker Lopez, the Blue Devils attempted and recovered an onside kick, allowing their offense to run more clock.
“We wanted to keep the ball out of Borkenhagen’s hands,” Tsiamas said. “I’m not looking forward to playing that kid the next two years; he’s going to be a heck of a quarterback.”
Peotone ate up another seven minutes of clock with their ground-and-pound approach, and Brewer capped off the drive with his second touchdown of the night, giving the Blue Devils a commanding 27-7 lead.
Heflin recovered his second fumble of the night on the final play of the third quarter, halting a promising Panther drive.
Peotone continued eating up three to five yards per play, before Nathan Battiato ripped off a 60-yard touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 33-7.
Borkenhagen hit Camen Rodriguez for a 17-yard touchdown on Manteno’s next possession to cut the lead, but it was too little, too late for the Panthers.
Peotone won the time of possession 35:43 to 12:17, a battle Tsiamis and the Blue Devils knew would be crucial.
“We preach time of possession and aim to have the ball for 30 minutes a game,” Tsiamas said. “We accomplished that tonight.”
Brewer finished with 117 yards and two touchdowns for Peotone. Battiato also had 117 yards rushing and one touchdown on 12 carries.
Branden Bias added 81 yards on 19 carries, and Gessewein added 8 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Heflin added a rushing touchdown, two fumble recoveries and a sack.
For Manteno, Borkenhagen was 5-of-11 passing for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Lopez led the receivers with 98 yards on six catches and a touchdown. Rodriguez added a touchdown catch, and J.P. Smith had 15 tackles defensively.
Peotone hits the road to take on Streator, and Manteno stays home to take on Herscher on Friday.