Silver Creek is just 7 minutes and 34 seconds from their first win in 70 years.
A line of severe storms approaching the Pekin area stopped play with that much time left in regulation with the Dragons on top of host Eastern on Friday night, 30-12. The game resumes at 3 p.m. today.
“I think they [Silver Creek players] will come back and play,” Dragons’ coach Mike Donahue said. “They want this.”
A low bouncing squib kick from Eastern opened up the game, giving the Dragons (0-3, 0-2 Mid-Southern Conference) a start from their own 37-yard line. The steady, grinding drive converted on one fourth-down opportunity before stalling out on another conversion attempt at the Eastern 4.
The Musketeers’ opening possession was short lived, just two plays before fumbling the ball into the hands of a Silver Creek defender on the Eastern 42. The possession change lasted one play as Silver Creek fumbled the ball back to Eastern on the Musketeer 42 with 7:31 remaining in the first quarter.
Eastern (0-3, 0-2) struggled to gain forward motion once it had regained the ball. Following penalties, Eastern found itself punting from its own 39. Silver Creek’s Layne Taylor had a different spot in mind for the ball.
Taking the punt from deep in Dragon territory, Taylor returned the punt to the Eastern 37 with 5:59 remaining in the first quarter. A roughing-the-passer penalty moved the Dragons up to the Eastern 23, setting up the first score of the game, a 23-yard pass from Brooks Howell to Jordan Betts with 4:58 remaining in the opening frame. A successful point-after kick from Drew Sherrow gave the visiting Dragons a seven-point lead.
The Dragons managed to get on the board on both sides of the ball. At the end of a four-and-out series for Eastern, the punt snap sailed by Jordan Eberle and into the Musketeer end zone for a safety, giving Silver Creek a nine-point lead with 2:56 remaining in the first quarter.
Eastern looked to retain the ball on the kickoff, going for its second squib kick of the game. The Dragons’ Drew Foley fell on the bouncing kick on the Eastern 40 to start the final drive of the first quarter. A long fumble recovered by Brooks set the Dragons back 30-plus yards, forcing their first punt of the evening.
Desperate to get on the board, the Musketeers converted their first fourth-down attempt of the evening on another botched punt attempt. Eberle grabbed the loose ball and converted it to a first down on the Eastern 39 with 9:30 to go in the second quarter. The Musketeers’ momentum ran out on the Silver Creek 31, giving the Dragon offense another chance to widen the lead with 5:06 to go in the first half.
The Dragons wasted no time getting off their half of the field. A 58-yard run from Romney Allen got the potent Dragon offense set up on the Eastern 11. The speed of Taylor got the Dragons another six points on his 9-yard scamper to the end zone. Another good PAT kick from Sherrow gave Silver Creek a commanding 16-0 lead with 3:37 to go in the second quarter.
The Musketeers finally got on the board on the ensuing kickoff. Kaleb Nicholson took the kickoff 82 yards for the first home score of the night. The attempt for two was short, leaving Eastern in a 10-point hole, 16-6 with 3:25 left in the first half.
The third squib kick from Eastern gave the potent Dragon offense the ball on their 49. An intentional grounding penalty set the Dragons back, but redemption happened on a fourth-down offsides penalty on Eastern to give the Dragons a net set of downs with just over a minute to go in the second quarter.
The momentum shifted seconds later as Howell connects with Eastern’s Mike Hall with 48 ticks left in the first half.
The Musketeers were unable to capitalize on the interception, but the second-half kickoff was theirs to receive.
The opportunity was not wasted as Austin Roberts connected with Jordan Huntly to get the Musketeers in the red zone with a little more than eight minutes left in the third quarter. The drive was capped with a 4-yard run from Eberle and a failed two-point conversion to get Eastern back within four, 16-12 with 7:24 to go in the third frame.
The fourth attempt for an onside kick for Eastern finally went its way. The low kick was fumbled by Silver Creek’s Derek Sheffield and recovered by Eastern on its 48. The good fortune was brief and the Musketeers went four-and-out, punting Silver Creek to its 15 to start the next series.
“We just wanted to keep it away from No. 2 (Layne Taylor),” explained Eastern head coach John Dablow on his reasoning for the constant use of the onside kick.
Silver Creek was looking to burn some clock and widen its lead with its next series. That accomplished both tasks, burning about four minutes off the clock and getting a score. The score, a 5-yard run from Allen with a successful PAT kick from Sherrow gave the Dragons a 23-12 lead with 1:58 to go in the third quarter.
The Musketeers started deep in their territory and punted four downs later. The punt pinned the Dragons on their 39 to open the first series of the fourth quarter. The series, a methodical drive burning nearly half the quarter, ended on a 25-yard lob from Howell to Sherrow with a good PAT kick from Sherrow. The drive gave the Dragons a 30-12 lead with 7:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The scoring drive was just in the nick of time as lightning was spotted by game officials just after the Silver Creek score and suspended play at 9 p.m.
Following a weather briefing from local law enforcement, both coaches agreed to continue the game this afternoon at the point which it was stopped.
“We’ve fought through adversity for the last two years,” said Howell. “We’ll get through it.”
At the point of delay, Howell was 9-for-16 passing for 100 yards with one interception and two touchdowns. On the ground, Taylor had 16 carries for 82 yards and Allen had six carries for 71 yards.
“They’re playing tough football right now,” Dablow said. “They ran it down our throats the last two possessions.”
PARTIAL BOX SCORE
SILVER CREEK 30, EASTERN 12
Silver Creek (0-3, 0-2 MSC) 9 7 7 7
Eastern (0-3, 0-2) 0 6 6 0
SC — Jordan Betts 23 pass from Brooks Howell (Drew Sherrow kick)
SC — Safety
SC — Layne Taylor 9 run (Sherrow kick)
E — Kaleb Nicholson 82 kickoff return (two-point conversion failed)
E — Jordan Eberle 4 run (two-point conversion failed)
SC — Romney Allen 5 run (Sherrow kick)
SC — Sherrow 25 pass from Howell (Sherrow kick)
Silver Creek leads Eastern, 30-12 before lightning suspends game until today
Silver Creek is just 7 minutes and 34 seconds from their first win in 70 years.
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