By Tom Schultz
Special to the Herald
FULTON, Ill. —
Fulton celebrated its homecoming in style with a blowout win over Riverdale, 57-6. The Steamers executed defensively, with numerous hard hits hitting, while the offense followed suit with precision, building a solid lead by the end of the first quarter.
“We did a nice job and we got off to a really good start,” Fulton coach Patrick Lower said. “Really couldn’t ask for a better start on our side of the football. Took advantage of some opportunities and just played well and executed all night.”
Senior Paul Velasco started the game with a burst through Riverdale’s offensive line, sacking the quarterback on the first play from scrimmage. It was similar to how he started the season for the Steamers in a win against Orion.
“I haven’t played that way in a while," Velasco said. "I haven’t played that way since Orion actually. Setting the tone — nothing feels better than that.”
Velasco’s hard hitting continued the rest of the game as he and the rest of his teammates on the line put the pressure on the Rams first quarterback, Cole Ebenroth, for the entire first half. On another key play in the first quarter, Matias Facio and Conor Hugunin pressured Ebenroth as he scampered to the sideline. Ebenforth tried to shovel the ball off to a teammate but Ethan Jones came streaking through for the pick six, going 30 yards for the touchdown. This put Fulton up 14-0.
“Matias Facio did an excellent job of forcing that errant throw and Conor Hugunin did a nice job too, as he was the one that I think hit him as he threw it," Lower said.
“I just saw him rolling out and I was going to run up and hit him and he just kind of gave it a little pitch and I was like ‘oh sweet,’ ” Jones said. “I honestly didn’t think he was going to throw it I thought he was just going try to get out of bounds.”
The Steamers scored once more in the first quarter on a 59-yard connection from Jones to Jason Osbourne putting Fulton up 20-0. Fulton's passing game started hot: Jones went 4-4 with 110 yards through the air, throwing two touchdowns to go with the one he nabbed on defense.
The second passing touchdown saw Jones hit Devin Kuehl in traffic, who then broke through several tackles and went in 20 yards for the touchdown. This ended the first half with the Steamers up 34-0.
The run game started off colder for Fulton before gaining some momentum in the second quarter. The Rams couldn’t stop the rush for the rest of the game.
“We play best when we’re flying around that football field, playing care free and enjoying it," Lower said. "I felt from the get-go we played like that, we played loose.”
Senior Austin Regenwether got his feet under him after the first quarter. He was leaned on for a 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter, the first of two on the night.
Kuehl matched Regenwether with his second rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, maneuvering his way 55 yards up the field to put the Steamers up 57-6.
Fulton went on to 240 yards on the ground against the Rams and 350 overall. A balanced attack has been the common theme in their three victories this season.
Across the field, the Rams managed only 194 yards of total offense against the Steamers and were limited to 43 in the first half. Fulton’s front line controlled the gaps, keeping Riverdale’s biggest threat, Terry White, to 40 yards in the first half and 117 overall on 26 carries.
“Defensively we were very worried about Terry White,” Lower said. “He’s a very good football player; He runs so hard, I characterize that he runs angry. We were very worried about him and we did a nice job gang tackling him and getting to the football.”
Last year, White burned the Steamers on two 73-yard touchdowns. This year, the Steamers expected him to be the go to guy for the Rams.
“We were prepared for it; we just got ready for Terry (White),” Velasco said. “With Rocker getting hurt it helped us out a little bit because then Terry’s (White) their only threat.”
The pass coverage and special teams by the Steamers was suffocating the entire night as Jack Lemke’s kickoffs consistently put the Rams deep in their own territory. It led to a safety when Osbourne got down the field and made the tackle on Riverdale’s Andrew Goodwin into the end zone during a kickoff.
Osbourne also got his hands in the way of a pass as did teammate Bryce Holesinger. The two of them along with Kuehl and Kody Crosthwaite blanketed the Rams passing options, keeping them from completing a pass until the fourth quarter when the game was already won. This forced the Rams to lean heavily on White. The Steamers minimized his gains, stuffing him before the first down marker every time until the final quarter.
“Everybody did their job, couldn’t think of a better way (to win),” Jones said.
The Steamers will look to make it three wins in a row next Friday against the Amboy Clippers on Senior Night.
FULTON 57, RIVERDALE 6
Riverdale 0 0 0 6 — 6
Fulton 20 14 16 7 — 57
F – Devin Kuehl 10-yard run (Lemke kick) 9:14
F – Ethan Jones 30-yard int (Lemke kick) 7:12
F – Jones 53-yard pass to Jason Osbourne(Lemke kick) 0:59
F – Austin Regenwether 2-yard run (Lemke kick) 3:23
F – Jones 20-yard pass to Kuehl (Lemke kick) 0:12
F – Regenwether 1-yard run (Lemke kick) 8:31
F – Lemke 18-yard run (Lemke kick) 3:59
F – Osbourne Safety 3:55
R – Klavon 3-yard pass to Ebenroth (extra point failed) 4:46
RUSHING: Riverdale – White 26-117, Klavon 1-(-6), Ebenroth 4-5, Goodwin 1-(-2); Fulton – Regenwether 17-130, Kuehl 6-71, Lemke 1-18, Jones 6-15, Sweenie 2-8.
PASSING: Riverdale – Ebenroth 0-5-1-0, Klavon 3-7-80; Fulton – Jones 4-7-0-110.
RECEIVING: Riverdale – Cook 1-57, Ebenroth 2-23; Fulton – Holesinger 3-47, Regenwether 1-43, Kuehl 1-20.