Tenth-ranked Hawks put up fight but falter to No. 4 Sages

When Wyatt Steidinger scored early in the game Friday night, it was the first time Monticello fell behind an opponent all season. Unfortunately for Prairie Central, the Sages were able to bounce right back.
    Monticello showed why it is the Illini Prairie Conference champion by overcoming the early deficit to post a 49-20 victory over the Hawks on the Sages’ home field.
    Steidinger broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run with 7:46 left in the first quarter to give the Hawks a 6-0 lead. The two-point conversion run failed but it was the first time this season Monticello trailed.
    It wasn’t for long as the Sages needed just 1:40 to take the lead. Braden snyder hit Devin Graham for an 18-yard touchdown and Luke Rudolph kicked the conversion for a 7-6 lead with 6:06 left in the opening frame.
    Prairie Central took the lead back with 51 seconds left in the quarter when Collier Palmore connected with Corbin Moser for a 21-yard touchdown. Steidinger ran in the two-pointer and PC was back on top 14-7.
    That lasted all of 14 seconds. Snyder and Graham hooked up for a 60-yard scoring strike with 37 seconds left and Rudolph’s kick made it 14-14. Rudolph was perfect on the night on his PATs.
    Then, with 9:08 to go in the first half, Snyder hit Graham for the hat trick as the pair connected for the third time for an aerial touchdown, this time a 15-yarder to make it 21-14. Alek Bundy ran in from seven yards with 1:15 to go in the half for a 28-14 Monticello lead.
    Prairie Central tried to get a little momentum back as time ran out on the second quarter with a 1-yard Palmore touchdown, making it 28-20 at the half.
    But that was all for the Hawks, who were shut out over the final two periods. Snyder added touchdown passes of 30 and 6 yards and ran in from a yard to cap the scoring.
    Snyder finished with 262 yards and five touchdowns on 15 of 26 throwing. Monticello (8-0), ranked fourth in Class 3A, collected 369 yards of offense.
    Prairie Central came into the game ranked 10th in Class 4A but now sits at 6-2. The Hawks had 30-3 yards of offense with 225 coming on the ground. Steidinger had 101 yards on 12 carries. Palmore added 45. Palmore was 3 of 9 passing for 78 yards and a TD.
    “The better team won,” PC head coach Kirk Brandenburg said. “Offensively, we played a great first half. Our lack of depth hurt us.”
    The Hawks will host St. Thomas More next week with a chance to eliminate the Sabers’ hopes of the postseason. A win will also strengthen PC’s chances of gettting an opening-round home game.