FULTON – Lots of teams are capable of putting points on the scoreboard, but to do so in a variety of ways makes for a unique football game.
The Fulton Steamers scored on offense, defense and special teams Friday against Stockton in a 44-6 win over the Blackhawks at Steamer Field.
Fulton (4-2, 4-1 NUIC) scored touchdowns by rush and pass, fumble recovery, kickoff return and interception, and senior kicker Endi Qunaj booted a field goal to round out the prolific pile of points.
More importantly for the Steamers, it felt great to be back in the win column after tough back-to-back losses against Muskegon (Mich.) Catholic Central and conference leader Lena-Winslow.
“It’s been a tough 3 weeks with a couple of really good teams that we’ve gone up against,” senior lineman Zane Pannell said. “We had a good game today to get back up.”
Senior running back Ryan Eads scored first for the Steamers on a 6-yard touchdown catch from senior quarterback Brayden Dykstra with 5:49 to go in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead. Senior running back Joel Ford scored the Steamers’ next two touchdowns, the first on a 46-yard first-quarter run and the next on a 19-yard catch from Dykstra, for a 20-0 lead after 14 minutes of play.
Stockton’s only score came on a 12-yard run from Jace Philips with 67 seconds left until halftime to put the Blackhawks (2-4, 2-4) on the board at 20-6.
Then the less conventional ways of scoring started happening, and the first one came right away: Eads caught the ensuing kickoff and weaved through a mob before leading a throng of teammates on a march from midfield for an 82-yard touchdown to immediately respond to the Blackhawks’ score.
“It was just a really good play, and a credit to our kick return team,” Eads said. “It was wide open and it was easy for me to do what they set up for me to do, so it was really nice.”
“All week we had been talking about kick return and how we really need to do better, get our blocks, and hit someone harder,” Pannell added. “I think we accomplished that today with that touchdown.”
Fulton wasn’t done with the creative scoring before halftime, as Pannell scooped up a high snap over the head of Blackhawk quarterback Carson McPeek and hauled it home for a 34-6 lead with 21 seconds until halftime.
“I saw the snap was too high and Lukas Schroeder dove for the ball, and right at that moment I was wishing that I could pick it up and score,” Pannell said. “I got it and was scared that I was going to get run down, so I was trying to run as fast as I could.”
Qunaj connected on a field goal – his only successful try out of two on the night – with 9:13 left in the third quarter, and Ben Fosdick capped the scoring with a pick-six off of McPeek from 55 yards out. The interception was McPeek’s third; Connor Sheridan also picked off a couple of passes in the second half.
“It’s really nice to score as many ways as possible,” Eads said. “We’re not just a run team, or just a pass team. I’m really proud of our team and of ourselves.”
Pannell also added 1.5 tackles for loss to go along with his defensive touchdown.
“That’s great, and a very rare thing that can occur,” Pannell said. “I’m very happy for all of the people that scored the touchdowns that usually don’t get the opportunity to.”
Fulton is at Forreston next Friday, while Stockton travels to Fieldcrest for a nonconference game on Saturday.