FOOTBALL

How Lena-Winslow and Durand/Pecatonica combined to outscore their playoff opponents 100-14

Jay Taft
Rockford Register Star

Defending state champion Lena-Winslow and the NUIC's next-best Rockford-area team, Durand/Pecatonica, both showed what they're made of this season with first-round playoff blowouts.

But the real tests are still to come.

All the scores:Where and when Rockford-area teams play in the 2022 IHSA football playoffs

Rivermen roll into Round 2

"Hey, this is playoff football, it's fun no matter what, especially when you're winning big," said Du/Pec's AJ Mulcahy, who rushed for just under 100 yards (97) and three TDs, all in the first half Saturday as Du/Pec pounded on Chicago Catalyst/Maria 52-8. "We know we have to stay focused, because this is just the beginning. ... We feel ready to go now."

Du/Pec also got a touchdown run and three TD passes from sophomore quarterback Cooper Hoffman, who completed all 11 of his throws in the game for 138 yards.

The defense allowed one 80-yard touchdown pass by Catalyst/Maria — and that was it.

"Our defense wasn't going to let that happen; we weren't going to let those guys escape," offensive and defensive line starter Briaun Green said. "We were flying to the ball, sideline to sideline, every play... Our coaches were like, just go. Go after them. And we did.

More playoff football: Byron, Stillman Valley roll into second round

"Now we just need to build off of this game. We're not done."

Du/Pec will next take on Braidwood Reed-Custer, which beat up on Chicago Carver 77-24 in its first-round matchup.

Du-Pec's  Will Howard catches a pass to put them on the two yard line, setting up a touchdown to put the Rivermen up 51-8 over Chicago Catalyst-Maria in first half of their first round playoff game in Pecatonica on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.

Le-Win is just too good

The opponent for Le-Win (10-0), Chicago Richards, was not only good with the game going into a running clock, but it wanted to get out of there even faster. The team requested the quarters be shortened from 12 minutes to eight in the second half.

That's the only reason the Panthers only won 48-6.

O'Mar Pasley came up big for the Le-Win defense, which came up big all day against Richards. Pasley had four tackles and two sacks as Le-Win held their first playoff opponent of the postseason to 2 yards rushing and 57 yards passing. Le-Win's D had four sacks in the game.

More playoff football: Rockford's top performers for the first round of the IHSA football playoffs

Le-Win had only 110 yards of offense and none of the backs had more than three carries. Gunar Lobdell, who was second in the NUIC in rushing in the regular season with 1,100 yards and 15 TDs, had one carry for 6 yards and a TD; Gage Dunker, who was fourth in the league in rushing with 943 yards and 20 TDs, had one carry for 12 yards and a score; and Jake Zeal, who headed into the game sixth in the league in rushing with 732 yards and 10 TDs, had one carry for 31 yards Saturday.

None of it mattered as Le-Win bound into the second round, where it will play the Oneida ROWVA/Williamsfield (6-4), which knocked off Stark County 28-14.

Jay Taft is a Rockford Register Star sports reporter. Email him at jtaft@rrstar.com and follow him on Twitter at @JayTaftSign up for the Rockford High School newsletter at rrstar.com. Jay has covered a wide variety of sports, from the Chicago Bears to youth sports, for more than 20 years at the Register Star, and for nearly 30 years all together.