STREATOR – More often than not, no matter the teams’ records, the side that wins the turnover battle will be the one that comes out on top.
That was the case Friday night at the SHS Athletic Fields, as Streator committed four turnovers in the first half – five for the game – and visiting Manteno took full advantage.
The Panthers scored four times in the first 24 minutes, including on the opening possession of the game, and while Streator got going in the second half to close to within 13 points, Manteno eventually picked up its first win of the season with a 42-28 Illinois Central Eight Conference triumph.
Manteno is 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the ICE, while Streator falls to 3-2 and 1-2.
“We had four turnovers in the first half with three fumbles and an interception because the guy ran the wrong route and our quarterback made the right read,” Streator coach Kyle Tutt said. “We lined up wrong a couple of times and had a bunch more mental mistakes in the first half.
“Not doing the little things well does not lead to wins. We just dug ourselves too big a hole to get out of, but also credit Manteno for capitalizing on our turnovers.”
Streator’s homecoming game didn’t get off to a good start.
On Manteno’s opening drive, quarterback Carter Drazy raced 65 yards untouched on the fourth play of the game, and Andrew Heuring booted the first of seven successful extra-point boots to make it 7-0.
Streator’s first chance moved the ball from its 44 to the Manteno 17 before losing it on downs. The Bulldogs then forced a Manteno punt but fumbled the ball away on the first play at the Panthers’ 46.
Manteno drove to the Streator 6, but the Bulldogs stopped a fourth-and-goal run. Again, an SHS fumble was lost at the 10, and after a penalty backed Manteno to the Streator 21, Drazy hit John Prindeville for a TD on a slant to make it 14-0.
Streator’s next drive ended with a lost fumble on the sixth play at the Manteno 38, then on the third play Drazy found Prindeville all alone on a 61-yard pass play. A Streator interception at its own 38 turned into a Logan Worobey 3-yard TD run to complete an eight-play drive as the first-half clock expired.
Streator broke the ice with 6:26 left in the third quarter on an Aneefy Ford 62-yard scoring sweep around right end, and Parker Phillis added the PAT kick. Then, after forcing a three-and-out, Bulldogs QB Christian Benning hooked up with Cade Stevens from 32 yards out and added a conversion pass to Ford to make it 28-15.
Manteno regrouped to make it 35-15 on another Drazy-to-Prindeville scoring strike, this one from 20 yards. Streator scored on its next possession on a 12-yard TD pass from Benning to Stevens.
Each team closed out its scoring in the final 1:13. The Panthers received a 6-yard TD run from Logan Worobey, while Benning and Stevens hooked up for the third time, this one from the Manteno 8, with 12. 7 seconds left.
Drazy finished with 119 yards on 12 carries, Worobey 86 yards on 27 carries, with the latter going 11-of-23 for 158 yards, and Prindeville six receptions for 104 yards.
Benning finished 14-of-22 passing for 243 yards, with Stevens making eight grabs for 170 yards. The Bulldogs were led on the ground by Ford’s 80 yards on two carries, with Benning adding 36 on 13 tries.
“Even with the loss, there were tons of positives,” Tutt said. “We moved the ball offensively pretty well when we hung onto it. We did a good job in the passing game and spread the ball around. We struggled a little bit in the running game, but we were kind of forced to go with the pass more once we got behind a couple of scores.”
Manteno — which overcame 14 penalties for 120 yards — held the advantage in first downs (17-11) and outgained Streator 368-331, including 210-88 on the ground.
Streator is at Peotone next Friday, while Manteno hosts Coal City.