Pecatonica blanks Trojans in first round of playoffs

Posted 11/3/21

PECATONICA – With five of its opponents making the playoffs, and having beaten four of them, Pecatonica-Durand came into its playoff game against Mendota with an impressive resume.

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Pecatonica blanks Trojans in first round of playoffs


PECATONICA – With five of its opponents making the playoffs, and having beaten four of them, Pecatonica-Durand came into its playoff game against Mendota with an impressive resume.

The Rivermen certainly lived up to their regular season success as they rolled to a 44-0 triumph over the Trojans in the first round of the IHSA Class 3A football playoffs on Oct. 30 at Pecatonica.

Mendota ended the season with a 5-5 record, while Pecatonica advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 9-1 mark.

While statistics play a big part in painting a picture of the outcome of a game, they can’t always be used as a true barometer of how the teams actually stacked up against each other. But in this contest, the final figures did not lie – Pecatonica dominated on the scoreboard and the statistics verified it.

The Rivermen piled up 386 total yards and averaged 7.1 yards per play. They executed a nice balance between the run and pass, gaining 224 yards on the ground and 162 in the air. Conversely, the Trojans had their worst offensive performance of the season. They could only generate 93 total yards in the contest (2.2 yards per play) during nine offensive possessions. In those nine possessions, Mendota advanced the ball into Pecatonica territory only four times, and the deepest penetration of the contest was to the Rivermen 44-yard line.

“(Pecatonica) has a good balance, they’re a nice team,” said Mendota coach Keegan Hill. “Their quarterback and running back are good runners, and they are very sound on defense. We threw our best pitch at them and they hit it.”

The game started out well for the Trojans as they received the opening kick and started their first offensive series at their own 47-yard line. Mendota was able to cross over mid-field into Pecatonica territory, where on a fourth-and-four play from the 46, Trojan running back Anthony Childs was stuffed by Pecatonica’s Trent Hetland for no gain and the Rivermen took over for their first crack on offense.

Pecatonica made good on its opening drive when it traveled 53 yards in seven plays, the final one being a 2-yard touchdown run by Trenton Taylor. Taylor also ran in the two-point conversion for a quick 8-0 Pecatonica lead.

Mendota stalled on offense on its ensuing possession and punted the ball back to the Rivermen, who took over at their own 16. They were able to march 83 yards down to the Trojan 1-yard line, where on a fourth-and-one play, Taylor was stood up before the goal line by Mendota’s John Gonzalez and Charles Heiting, and the Trojans took over possession.

Mendota was able to get out of the shadow of its own goal line and moved the ball to the 16, but was forced into another punt. Gonzalez’s boot only traveled 14 yards to the Trojan 30. From there, Pecatonica needed just four plays to get back in the end zone when Taylor tallied from 9 yards out, followed by a Taylor two-point run for a 16-0 Rivermen lead with 6:34 left in the half.

Mendota again had excellent field position when it received the kick from Pecatonica, starting at their own 47. The Trojans moved the ball 9 yards in three plays to the Pecatonica 44, but Mendota couldn’t pick up a first down on fourth-and-one and gave the ball back to the Rivermen. As it turned out, Mendota’s advancement to the Pecatonica 44 was the deepest penetration it made the entire game.

Pecatonica parlayed that fourth-down stop into its third touchdown of the game, this time using its aerial attack when quarterback Hunter Hoffman connected with Bryce Fitzanko on a 33-yard TD strike at the 2:23 mark of the second quarter. The two-point conversion attempt came up short of the goal line.

Mendota was unable to move the ball on offense and Pecatonica burned all three of its timeouts hoping to get another crack on offense before the half. The Trojans punted the ball back to the Rivermen, who took over at their own 11-yard line with just 52 seconds left before intermission. Somehow, in nine plays, Pecatonica was able to move the ball 89 yards, with Hoffman diving over the goal line from 14 yards out as the game clock moved to zero. The two-point run was no good and the count stood at 28-0 at the half.

The Rivermen received the second-half kickoff, and on the first play from scrimmage, Taylor raced 63 yards for a touchdown, and he followed up with a two-point conversion run to make it 36-0.

Then after a 5-yard punt by Mendota turned the ball back over to Pecatonica at the Trojan 35, the Rivermen capped off the scoring on a 1-yard TD run by Hoffman with 4:42 left in the third frame. Hoffman passed to Hetland for the two-pointer

The rest of the game was played using the running clock. Mendota got an interception by Ryne Strouss, but on the next play, Pecatonica’s Drew Williams picked off a Ted Landgraf pass and returned it to the Trojan 8-yard line. Mendota’s defense held and the offense got the ball back, but Williams intercepted Landgraf again and the Rivermen were able to run out the clock.

Twelve seniors played their final game for the Trojans, and Hill was happy that they helped Mendota get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“We wondered what we were going to have to do to get these kids back in the playoffs with all of the uncertainty, and out of all of the unknowns, these kids were able to hold together and get us back in the playoffs,” said Hill. “It was a great accomplishment on everyone’s part.”