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STREATOR — The La Salle-Peru football team lit up the scoreboard for 31 second-half points to turn a three-point game at halftime into a 41-14 win over Streator in Northern Illinois Big 12 West Division Conference action Friday.
“We knew as coaches, and they knew as players, that they came out a little flat in the first half,” L-P coach Joe Sassano said. “They did what they had to do in the second half. We had some key plays.”
The Cavaliers’ passing attack was again on point, racking up 387 yards through the air.
Quarterback Zack Cinotto threw for 333 yards on 15-of-31 passing with two passing touchdowns and a 1-yard scoring run while Colby Sassano added a 54-yard touchdown strike to Adam Happ to cap off the night’s scoring in the fourth quarter.
Happ was one of two L-P receivers to top the century mark as the senior receiver hauled in four catches for 115 yards and two scores.
Brandon Pawlak also had a huge day receiving as he caught eight passes for 166 yards, including L-P’s opening score in the second quarter.
“Our plays are consistent and our line held up. The receivers just got up (for the ball),” Pawlak said. “At halftime we realized this was our game to win and we couldn’t blow it. Everyone came out fired up and executed.”
Happ said the Cavs’ passing attack was shaping up nicely.
“That’s our main form of offense. Zack’s got a real strong arm. He’s an excellent quarterback. Our line is coming along, giving him some time to throw now, and our receivers are making some plays. That’s good for our offense.”
While the passing game was key, it was a big play from senior Billy Vickers on special teams that helped the Cavs break things open in the fourth.
After junior Drew Muntz’s 42-yard touchdown off a screen pass brought the Bulldogs within two scores at 27-14, Streator elected to go for an onside kick with 8:44 left in the contest.
But the onside kick attempt was botched and ended up traveling backwards without being touched before Vickers alertly scooped up the pigskin and raced 37 yards into the end zone to put L-P up 34-14.
L-P junior kicker John Sydlowksi helped the Cavs to a 10-7 lead at intermission with a 32-yard field goal with no time left on the clock that was set up by back-to-back Streator penalties, including a pass interference flag near the goal line. He added a 30-yard field goal to put the Cavs up 13-0 midway through the third quarter.
L-P junior defensive back Logan Zeman snagged a pair of picks in the contest, the first stopping a Streator drive at L-P goal line. The second interception capped off a wild series of events that saw three players tip the ball in rapid succession before Zeman plucked it from the air.
“That interception, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was ridiculous,” Pawlak said. Muntz led Streator (0-7, 0-3 NIB 12) with a strong rushing performance of 147 yards on 23 carries.
“They played tough. They ran the ball at us. They played hard. That was a good game,” Joe Sassano said.
With the win, the Cavs kept their playoff hopes alive with a 3-4 record. They will need to win out the final two games of the season against Ottawa and Geneseo to be playoff eligible.
“That’s what we’re going for. Us seniors, we want another game. We want to fight another day,” Happ said. “We couldn’t look past this one. Streator put up a good fight in the first half. Now we’ve got Ottawa next week.”
Note: Streator won the sophomore contest 42-22.
NewsTribune Sports Writer Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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