Usually three turnovers and having a touchdown called back because of a penalty spells disaster for a football team.
But not Friday night. Pekin had those problems but still blanked East Peoria 31-0 in a Mid-Illini Conference game at steamy Memorial Stadium.
It was the second straight win for Pekin (3-2, 2-1) while East Peoria (2-3, 1-2) dropped its second in a row.
“We weren’t perfect. There’s a lot to clean up,” said Dragons coach Doug Nutter.
Pekin’s defense cleaned up. It kept East Peoria out of the end zone, held the Raiders to 173 yards, and forced five turnovers.
“Our defense did a great job,” Nutter said. “Our turnovers put their backs to the wall.”
Quarterback Quinn Theleritis played a role in all four Pekin touchdowns.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior found a leaping Christian Hill on a well-thrown 35-yard score and connected with Brad Johnson on a 32-yard TD pass.
Johnson caught a short toss from Theleritis and was sprung loose by a big block by Hill.
Theleritis scored himself on a 1-yard sneak and an 8-yard scramble.
He finished 13-of-24 passing for 188 yards. Johnson (five catches, 77 yards) and Sebastian Hill (four catches, 37 yards) combined for nine of Theleritis’ 13 completions.
First-year East Peoria coach Erik Black had plenty of praise for his team, which was shorthanded because of injuries and other issues.
“I’m disappointed about the loss, but not disappointed in our effort. Our kids played extremely hard. As hard as they could,” he said. “I like how our defense flew to the ball and our offense did some good things.
“You just can’t have five turnovers like we did and expect to win.”
All three Pekin interceptions set up touchdowns.
Pickoffs by Hill and Braden Lavin in the first quarter turned into Pekin scores. The Dragons led 17-0 at halftime thanks to a 23-yard field goal in the second quarter by Nathan Righi.
Lavin’s second interception, on the first play of the fourth quarter, set the stage for Pekin’s final TD.
East Peoria quarterback Tristen Westbay was 7-for-26 through the air for 76 yards.
Luke Huff of the Raiders rushed for a game-high 83 yards on 16 carries. He had runs of 24 and 29 yards late in the second quarter when East Peoria drove to the Pekin 7 before four straight incompletions ended the Raiders’ march just before halftime.
“That was a big stop for our defense,” Nutter said. “If East Peoria scores there, it’s 17-7 at halftime and they received the kickoff to start the second half.”
Penalties were a problem for both teams. Pekin was flagged nine times for 70 yards and East Peoria had nine penalties for 85 yards.
An ineligible receiver downfield penalty wiped out a touchdown pass from Theleritis to Lavin in the first quarter.
Steve Stein can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.