By Tom Schultz
For the Herald
KEWANEE, Ill. —
Friday’s game between the Fulton Steamers and Kewanee Boilermakers was about as ugly offensively as the jerseys were dirty.
Rain came down during the entire game at a steady rate, tapering off in the last quarter and producing a muddy field and a higher rate of fumbles. The defenses of both teams took advantage of the slippery field and the teams combined for nine points as the Steamers won 6-3 over the Boilermakers to finish their season with a win.
Going into the game neither team was headed to the playoffs but both wanted to end the season with a win. The Steamers were 3-5 while Kewanee went in 1-7, and Fulton wanted to get out to a quick start over Kewanee and try and put the game away early.
“Anytime you can get off to that good start and get some momentum early in the ball game it relaxes your team a little bit more, and you play a little more relaxed and good things tend to happen more frequently for you,” Fulton coach Patrick Lower said.
That didn’t happen. Fulton was held scoreless in the first half and all that Kewanee could muster was a field goal in the second quarter.
“Offensively we were just spinning our tires in the mud a bit,” Lower said. “We told them at half time, ‘Just relax. Get a stop on defense, go down and score.’ And we did what we wanted to do. We did relax a little bit better and we made plays when we had to make plays there in the third and fourth quarters.”
Neither team scored in the first quarter, and about the only thing both teams were successful at doing was turning midfield into a mud pile.
“The conditions were not favorable for anybody out there,” Lower said. “It’s one of those things where the whole first half we had the ball in our territory, whether they had it or we had it. We’d get them to turn the ball over on downs and good for us, but then we’re on our 15-yard line.”
Late in the third quarter, the Steamers took possession of the ball and were able to march it down the field and finally score. With 56 seconds left on the clock, Fulton took a 6-3 lead on an Austin Regenwether 1-yard touchdown and needed the defense to step up once again.
Fulton’s defense was stingy all night long allowing Kewanee to only get 83 yards of total offense the entire game, all on the ground, with only 19 coming in the second half.
“Credit our defense, they made plays when they had to, they did a nice job,” Lower said.
While the Steamers 4-4 defensive scheme highlights stopping the run game and gets more attention, the Steamer secondary has been solid all year long and continued to play well Friday against the Boilermakers.
Kewanee’s quarterback David Washburn was 0-5 through the air with the Steamers knocking down balls and getting a big interception late. Junior Connor Hugunin was filling in for the injured TJ Huizenga at outside linebacker and got an interception with 1:26 left on the clock in the fourth quarter to squash the Boilers hopes of winning.
The interception sealed the 6-3 win for Fulton as they ended their season on a high note with the win and a record of 4-5.
FULTON 6, KEWANEE 3
Fulton 0 0 6 0 — 6
Kewanee 0 3 0 0 — 3
K — FG, Washburn 18, 4:17
F — Austin Regenwether 1 run (try failed), 0:56
RUSHING — Fulton (39-176), Austin Regenwether 24-74, Ethan Jones 8-22, Austin Manon 5-57, Weston Jones 2-3; Kewanee (35-83), Austin Vervynck 11-25, Murphy 7-36, Washburn 6-5, Alan Vervynck 1-minus-7, Nuding 10-24.
PASSING — Fulton, E. Jones 2-5-1, 24 yards; Kewanee, Washburn 0-5-1, 0 yards.
RECEIVING — Manon 1-15, Kody Crosthwaite 1-9.