One play exemplified Pekin's 38-7 pummeling of Dunlap on Friday in a Mid-Illini Conference football opener.
Ahead 24-7 at halftime after scoring 24 straight points, the Dragons faced a fourth-down-and-inches situation on their own 29-yard line on their first possession of the third quarter.
Pekin coach Doug Nutter decided to go for it. What could have been a momentum-switching stop for Dunlap (1-2, 0-1) turned into a first down for the Dragons (2-1, 1-0) when Mason Carr moved the chains with a 3-yard run on a quarterback sneak.
"Senior center to senior quarterback and they got it done," Nutter said Saturday.
Ryan Salazar is the center. His blocking assignment on the play was Dunlap linebacker Charlie Mangieri, a Big Ten recruit.
"Mangieri came up the middle. Ryan blocked him to one side and Mason ran the other way," Nutter said.
Domination by Pekin's offensive and defensive lines, smart decisions by Carr and big plays were keys to the Dragons' win. And, oh yes, zero turnovers after committing eight in a 54-13 loss the previous week to Sterling.
Dunlap had three turnovers against Pekin. Two led to scores.
The Dragons reeled off 38 straight points after the Eagles scored first on a muggy, foggy and soggy night at Memorial Stadium.
Garrett Liggett (19 carries, 81 yards) ran for three touchdowns for Pekin and Carr (11-for-15 passing, 118 yards and 15 carries, 61 yards) scored twice.
Pekin's Julian Hill caught four passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. He also had an interception and 25-yard punt return that led to touchdowns.
"We challenged our kids to win the effort plays, third downs and turnover margin and they won all three," Nutter said. "That's a great Dunlap team we held to seven points."
Dunlap coach Brett Cazalet said Friday the game came down to execution.
"Pekin executed on defense and we didn't execute offensively at all," he said.
Dangerous Dunlap quarterback Harlan Mitchell was only 6-for-18 passing for 84 yards and he was intercepted twice. He rushed for just 30 yards on 11 attempts.
"We focused on containing their quarterback," Nutter said. "We showed our kids film of what he did to us last year (in a 10-7 Dunlap win) and what he has the potential to do."
Dunlap picked up only four first downs Friday -- one because of a Pekin penalty -- and 157 total yards. The Dragons had 13 first downs, 258 total yards and dominated time of possession 28:56 to 19:04.
Lineman Cody Hunt led Pekin's defense with 11.5 tackles including 10 solos. The 5-foot-10, 240-pound senior also was an extra blocker in the Dragons' offensive backfield on short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Hunt normally plays offensive tackle when Pekin has the ball. He was spelled Friday by Brody Haynes and Dylan Dilkey, mainly to give him more time on defense.
"We game plan defensively to put Cody where the opposing team runs the ball most," Nutter said.
Dunlap took a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard run by Hunter Mitchell with 11:40 to go in the second quarter. Pekin responded quickly and often.
A 33-yard run by Carr just 53 seconds after Hunter Mitchell's score tied the game 7-7. Hill's interception set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Liggett with4:59 left in the second quarter that put the Dragons ahead for good.
A perfectly thrown 26-yard touchdown strike from Carr to Hill made it 21-7 and Nathan Righi booted a 27-yard field goal with 11.5 seconds go to before halftime after Ethan Hall recovered a Dunlap fumble on a kickoff return.
"How about that sophomore?" Nutter said about Righi, who also had five PATs on a perfect night placekicking. Righi also punted four times for an average of 35.5 yards per boot and his well-placed kickoffs gave Dunlap fits.
Liggett banged into the end zone from 1 yard out late in the third quarter and he had a 2-yard touchdown run with 3:10 to go in the game.