Big win in a bigger class: Durand/Pecatonica football ease into Class 3A second round
PECATONICA — Durand/Pecatonica not only showed that it could play up to the competition in the Class 3A state playoffs, but the Rivermen showed they can dominate there.
Thanks to a power-run game led by Trenton Taylor, not the usual aerial assault they've used more out of the spread.
Du/Pec pounced on Mendota and never let up, eventually rolling to a 44-0 playoff-opening rout in its second go-around in the 3A playoffs. After playing 1A competition all season while winning their first NUIC conference title, the Rivermen were ready to show that they could again compete in the 3A playoffs.
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They won one game and lost to the eventual state runners-up from Byron the first time they played in the 3A postseason back in 2019.
Saturday's blowout was valid proof they are ready once again.
"This pretty much tells everybody in 3A that, 'Hey, we're here, and we're ready to play,'" Du/Pec's star tailback Trenton Taylor said after rushing for 172 yards and three touchdowns. "We kind of started off going after them and seeing what they were going to give us. After a while, I could tell I was going to have a big game."
Taylor scored on a 2-yard run and then a 9-yard burst to give the Rivermen a 16-0 first-quarter lead, and the Du/Pec defense had already stopped Mendota on fourth down twice. The trend continued.
"For the first quarter or so we were looking to see what they were going to give us," Du/Pec head coach Tyler Hoffman said. "But everything seemed to be working. Especially Trenton and that run game, though."
The Rivermen led 28-0 at half and kept the momentum. QB Hunter Hoffman, who finished with 186 yards on 11 of 14 passing, threw for a touchdown pass and ran for two more as Du/Pec earned a running clock in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore cornerback Drew Williams had two interceptions, and linebacker Kaden Degner led the team with eight tackles as the Rivermen earned their fourth shutout of the year.
Now Du/Pec (9-1), ranked eighth in the latest 3A polls, will take on Elmhurst Immaculate Conception (9-1), ranked No. 1, in next week's second round of the playoffs. Date and times will be announced soon.
"Today was definitely a statement that we can play at the 3A level, and we're ready," Hunter Hoffman said. "We just have to keep things clicking next week."