United bounces Peoria Heights

Marty Touchette

The United Red Storm bounced back from last week’s  disappointing loss to Aledo with a 42-22 victory over the Peoria  Heights Patriots. The victory clinched a playoff berth for the Red Storm.

Coming into the game, the question facing the Red Storm was whether they could find offensive threats to replace injured star junior running back Adam Olin.

Zach Steele, Chris Olson and Aaron McDonald answered the call to duty with big games, all rushing for more than 100 yards and each getting at least one touchdown.

McDonald ran for 135 yards on 14 carries and scored twice. Steele ran for 121 yards on 16 carries and scored once. Olson contributed 117 yards on 11 carries and also scored once.

United rolled to a quick 22-0 lead in the first quarter, playing dominant football. The running back trio repeatedly gashed the Patriot defense and the United defense held the pass happy Patriot offense in check.

Peoria Heights finally got a score on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Bryan Bent to get on the scoreboard with 1:47 to play in the first quarter, making the score 22-6.

United responded quickly with a touchdown drive culminating on a 5-yard Zach Steele run to make the score 28-6 early in the second period.

Then, inexplicably, the Red Storm went into a funk that would last until the middle of the third quarter. Penalties and missed assignments haunted United, and cost them scoring opportunities on at least three occasions.

Peoria Heights’ offense runs out of the same formation on most plays. A formation that features four wide-outs for Bent to choose from and only one running back.

On the first possession of the half, the Patriots crossed up the Red Storm by running the ball out of the formation. With Untied on its heels the Patriots scored to cut the lead to 28-14. Briefly, it appeared as though Peoria Heights might take control of the game.

Despite repeated penalties, the Red Storm responded by firing up the running game again. Junior running back Zach Steele, in particular, made tough runs through the Patriots defense and Patrick Olin scored on a keeper to put the game out of reach 36-14 with 1:26 to go in the third.

On the next offensive possession, McDonald pointed out to the Red Storm coaching staff that running back Logan Hickerson “would go nuts if he would score a touchdown.” Hickerson’s number was called on the next play and the junior followed the blocks of Anton Kozelichki and Kyle Ischer up the middle for a 12-yard score, his first of the season.

“He was the happiest kid in the stadium,” athletic director Tony Kozelichki said.

A late score by the Patriots made the final score 42-22.

With the victory in hand, the Red Storm officially returned to its “tradition,” of making the playoffs.

United travels to Elmwood next week, with the possibility of hosting a playoff game on the line.