Streator suffers stagnant start, first loss of season at Lisle

LISLE – After putting up better than 400 yards in last week’s victory over Herscher, the Streator Bulldogs sure could have saved some of that offensive production for their game against Lisle at Benedictine University on Friday evening.

The Bulldogs could manage only 174 yards of total offense, including just 63 in the first half, as they fell behind 14-0. Streator, however, rallied for 14 straight points in the third period to tie the game, but then wilted in the fourth quarter as the Lions stormed back to take the lead and eventually the Illinois Central Eight victory, 28-14.

“When you play only one quarter well, you can’t expect to win.”

—  Streator football coach Kyle Tutt

Streator was hoping to become the first Bulldogs team since 1977 to reach the 4-0 mark to start a campaign, but unfortunately that will have to wait for another year.

“Lisle did a great job early and had some great adjustments after we tied the game up. So give their defense a lot of credit for what they did in the first half,” Streator coach Kyle Tutt said. “When you play only one quarter well, you can’t expect to win.

“We’ll just have to regroup and get ready for Manteno next week.”

Lisle (3-1 overall, 1-1 ICE) produced 213 yards of total offense. Most of those came on the legs of junior wingback Tyrese Watson, who toted the ball 16 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns. Junior fullback Dominic Nigro had 16 carries for 64 yards, as the Lions got off to a great start and finished just as well.

Streator rang up 118 yards of rushing offense. Senior Darryl Gullens led the way with 18 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown, while Aneefy Ford had four carries for 40 yards. Sophomore quarterback Christian Benning – coming off a school-record for passing yards last week – was just 4-of-15 for 56 yards and a 29-yard touchdown pass to senior Tyler Luckey. Benning was also intercepted twice, including a pick-6 that ended the night’s scoring.

The Lions drew first blood after an eight-play, 44-yard drive that culminated in Watson’s 9-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left in the opening quarter. Dominic Nigro’s two-point run made it 8-0 Lisle.

Streator had a great chance to score early in the second quarter, but a failed pass on fourth-andgoal from the Lions 8-yard line that turned the ball over on downs tantalizingly close to paydirt.

The after a Lisle four-and-out, the Bulldogs once again had excellent field position. But a holding call on fourth down thwarted another Streator prime scoring opportunity with less than two minutes left in the half.

Lisle followed quickly and made it 14-0 late in the second quarter when Watson took the first play from scrimmage and rambled 75 yards for a touchdown with 1:40 to play before the half. The conversion run failed, but the Lions were in command entering the locker room at the break.

Far from rolling over, though, the Bulldogs came out with some fire in the second half.

With their second possession on third-and-12 from the Lisle 29, Benning hit Tyler Luckey with the touchdown throw, and Parker Phillis’ kick was good to pull the Bulldogs to within 14-7 at the 6:23 mark.

Lisle’s ensuing possession ended when Jake Luckey recovered a fumble at the Lisle 19, and with another short field, Gullens ultimately scampered home on a 4-yard touchdown run at 3:48. Another Phillis PAT made it 14-14.

The Lions, however, scored the final 14 points – Watson from 4 yards out and sophomore Drew Nigro with a 45-yard interception return to the end zone with 4:56 remaining – the latter proving to be the final nail in Streator’s coffin.

“After this, we’ll continue to take one game at a time. This loss doesn’t define who we are or what we do,” Tutt said. “We’ll just refocus and look at what we did wrong and improve moving forward.”

The Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1 ICE) will look to get back on track next Friday with their homecoming game against winless Manteno.

Bill Lidinsky

Bill Lidinsky

Bill Lidinsky is an award-winning sports journalist and the recipient of the Illinois Coaches Association 2016 Sportsperson of the Year Award for his softball expertise and coverage.