Pontiac opens season triumphantly
Pontiac head football coach Alan Kuchefski knew what Central Catholic would try to do schematically against the Indians in Friday night’s Illini Prairie Conference tilt. Kuchefski coached alongside Saints’ coach Joe Walters for a year prior to coming to PTHS.
“We had a pretty good idea what they were going to run offensively,” Kuchefski said. “We had guys up to stop the run, and we wanted to make them beat us with the pass. For the most part I thought we did a great job.”
The Indians’ tough run defense, along with a valiant rushing attack, proved too much for the Saints as the Indians came away with an impressive 35-14 road victory to open up the 2018 season.
Despite failing to get anything going in their opening drive, Pontiac was able to jump on the scoreboard first. A fumble recovery by Justin Grieff set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Austin Norman to give Pontiac a 7-0 lead with 9:47 remaining in the opening quarter. Carter Dawson made the conversion kick. Dawson was good on each of his five tries on the night.
The Saints would answer, marching the ball 79 yards to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:21 left in the first quarter. BCC quarterback Conner Boerm found Mick Bauer in the end zone from eight yards out.
This would be all the Saints could muster up for the remainder of the half . Thanks to a heavy dose of Norman and a solid defense, the rest of first half was all Pontiac.
Norman again found the end zone for the second time on the Indians’ next possession. This time the all-conference senior found the end zone on a 5-yard scamper, giving the Indians a 14-7 lead with 2:14 left in the first quarter.
Despite a costly fumble and holding penalty on the drive, Pontiac was able to find the end zone for the third straight possession. Quarterback Ben Schuler called his own number and raced in for a 13-yard score, extending the Tribe’s lead to 21-7 with 10:45 left in the half.
Just a couple minutes later, Schuler again found the end zone. This time it was through the air as he connected with sliding wideout Colton Clesson for a 15-yard touchdown, making it 28-7 with 8:53 remaining in the second quarter.
There was plenty of time for the Indians to continue the onslaught, which they did by adding another score before the half ended.
The last touchdown for Pontiac came from Norman with 3:34 left in the half on a 1-yard rush off left tackle.
“I thought we played a real good first half,” Kuchefski said. “I thought we controlled the ball. It is always nice to come here and get a win. It has been a long time since we have gotten a win here, so any time you can do it it’s special.”
The lone second half score came in the opening possession of the second half, as the Saints were able to march 75-yards down the field to make it 35-14 with 9:19 left in the third.
It was done mainly through the air, where BCC found some success late in the first half and it continued into the third period.
Boerm was able to find Jack Moews in the end zone for a 6-yard score on that opening drive. The touchdown drive was aided by two Indian penalties (pass interference, personal foul).
The Indians (1-0) were led by Norman, who rushed for 193 yards on 30 carries as the Indians piled up 292 yards on the ground. Schuler added 60 on 10 keepers and Gavin Bauknecht added 43 yards on 11 trips.
Schuler was 6 of 10 passing for 83 yards and a touchdown. Bauknecht was the top receiver with two catches for 27 yards.
Pontiac’s defense limited the Saints (0-1) to 175 yards of offense, of which 102 came on the ground. Reece Seidl and Jake Slaughter each rushed for 36 yards.
Pontiac will open its home campaign next week against Tolono Unity. Unity lost 34-13 to Illinois Valley Central Friday night.