By Tom Schultz
Special to the Herald
PRINCETON, Ill. — It took awhile but the Fulton Steamers finally got their second win of the season, snapping a four-game losing streak.
The Steamers played solid football to beat Princeton 35-6 on Friday, working through some issues in the win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“It feels good to get back on the winning side of the football,” Fulton coach Patrick Lower said.
Senior Bryce Holesinger stepped up for the Steamers and had a great night on both sides of the ball, providing a spark early and igniting a fire that never went out for the Steamers.
“Feels great (to win)," he said. "I haven’t felt like that since Week 1, and that’s something we’re hoping to continue because playoffs started today for us.”
The Steamers (2-4) started the scoring when, with less than a minute left in the first quarter, Princeton quarterback Jacob Reinhardt decided to loft a pass across the middle into a mass of Steamers defenders, trying to find his well-covered teammate. Holesinger came down with the interception and ran it in 18 yards for the touchdown.
After the "Pick 6" from Holesinger, the Steamers put the ball in Austin Regenwether’s hands and let him run wild in the second quarter. He rewarded the Steamers' confidence with two touchdowns in the quarter and 81 yards in the first half. He even surprised Steamers fans and the Princeton defense by going out for a pass and getting 40 yards on the completion.
“It’s always nice to switch it up a little,” he said.
On Fulton’s last possession of the half, it had one minute left to march the ball nearly 50 yards down the field and took care of that on one play. Quarterback Ethan Jones hit Holesinger down the right sideline for a 45-yard reception, putting the Steamers on the 2-yard line.
“Bryce Holesinger made a great adjustment on a ball that was thrown on the inside," Lower said. "It was good coverage by the Princeton defensive back.”
Holesinger said: "I started going outside. The kid started moving out, so Ethan threw it in and I cut in front of his face, and when I cut in front of his face I got the upper hand on the ball.”
The Steamers went back to Holesinger once more for the touchdown with 3 seconds left in the quarter, which put them up 28-0.
“We really executed a two-minute drill there right at the end of the half," Lower said. "Kind of a backbreaker, we thought, to go up 28-0 at half.”
The first half wasn’t without its issues for the Steamers. Once again they had trouble holding on to the ball. On a few occasions the ball was either knocked loose from the ball carrier’s hands or a snap was dropped at the line of scrimmage. Fulton was lucky that none of those mishaps cost them any ground.
The other glaring issue Fulton had was a bevy of offside calls against them in the first half. They were called on the same penalty five times in the course of the first two quarters, and by the third time Lower fuming as he was forced to burn a timeout to talk to his offensive line on the field.
“We had an issue with lining up offsides; the officials got us on it quite a few times," he said. "We thought we corrected it, and then it came back to bit us a little bit in the second quarter, but (in the) second half we adjusted to it.”
The second half flew by pretty uneventfully for both teams, as they each ran time off the clock and scored once. The Steamers added seven more points on a 5-yard carry from Regenwether in the third quarter. The Tigers scored their only touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 32-yard connection from Reinhardt to Zack Friel.
The offense for Fulton got a majority of the attention in the win, but the defense quietly did exactly what it was supposed to do, holding Princeton to six points and limiting the number of first downs and total offense of the Tigers, who managed only 135 yards of total offense.
“It was just a good night defensively," Lower said. "Coach (Derek) Germann and the defensive unit did a really nice job.”
The Steamers needed the win after losing four in a row and hope to use it to boost their confidence going into their homecoming game against Riverdale next Friday night.
“I think this win really sparked our confidence," Regenwether said. "We needed more confidence with the way we’ve been playing the last couple weeks.”
FULTON 35, PRINCETON 6
Princeton 0 0 0 6 — 6
Fulton 7 21 7 0 — 35
F — Holesinger 18 int. return (Lemke kick), :53
F — Regenwether 2 run (Lemke kick), 7:38
F — Regenwether 2 run (Lemke kick), 2:25
F — Holesinger 1 pass from Jones (Lemke kick), :03
F — Regenwether 5 run (Lemke kick), 7:17
P — Friel 32 pass from Reinhardt (PAT failed), 8:56
RUSHING — Princeton, Wedekind 4-4, Dickens 7-17, Smith 6-2, Reinhardt 8-18, Vaccaro 3-2, Wilde 5-12; Fulton, Regenwether 23-153, Kuehl 11-61, Lemke 1-2, Jones 2-3, Holesinger 2-13
PASSING — Princeton, Reinhardt 9-15-1-80; Fulton, Jones 4-7-0-92.
RECEIVING — Princeton, Wedekind 3-22, Friel 2-45, Dickens 2-3, Vaccaro 2-10; Fulton, Holesinger 3-52, Regenwether 1-40.