The 288 yards rushing with touchdowns of 75, 61 and 50 yards mattered far less Saturday to St. Edward junior running back Dwayne Allen Jr. than one other number.
“Ten and 0 is a good feeling right now,” he said.
Allen’s three touchdowns and game-clinching interception, and a much smaller defense that dominated bigger Rock Island Alleman, led to St. Edward’s 31-12 victory in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“It kind of makes me speechless,” St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said, after the Green Wave won a playoff game on their own field for the first time. “I’m oozing with pride for my boys.
“Their average line was 243 pounds and their range from 230 to 280 and their linebackers are 230, so I really didn’t think we’d be able to control the line of scrimmage or survive. And we dominated the line of scrimmage.”
A St. Edward defense led by Augie Nottolini, Josh Von Rohr, Jack Tierney and Jake French repeatedly stuffed the wing-T power running of Alleman (5-5), allowing only 66 yards rushing as the Green Wave (10-0) earned a shot at Coal City in the second round.
“For us, size doesn’t mean anything,” Nottolini said. “It’s all about our heart. Coach Rolando always says heart is what wins high school football games.”
St. Edward’s defensive dominance — 165 total yards — let its offense be patient and probe with the passing game and Allen, until their running threat started breaking big gains to put it away.
“Their running back could make a play at any point,” Alleman coach Dave DeJaegher said. “Our kids played hard and hung in but couldn’t get it done against a very good football team.
“They’ll be dangerous for any team to deal with.”
Allen broke straight up the middle and turned on the burners for a 75-yard TD run to start the Green Wave’s third possession, but Alleman countered with a 35-yard TD pass from Kelan Whan to Kylee Dorsey at 10:18 before halftime. However, Joe French had made the first of his four extra point kicks and a bad snap wiped out Alleman’s conversion try so St. Edward led 7-6.
The Green Wave took advantage of good field position when Joe Mullen rolled out and found Trevor Loewen for a 27-yard TD strike 55 seconds before halftime to make it 14-6.
“Trevor read it, he saw me rolling and I told him if he saw me rolling, just flow with me,” said Mullen, who was 8-for-21 for 67 yards. “We had the connection and I just shot it to him.”
Alleman stayed within striking distance until Allen took a handoff out of the spread and cut off the left edge all the way for a 61-yard TD.
“The cutbacks were real open,” said Allen, who had 24 carries. “It opened up the passing game, and our passing game started to slow down, and that’s when we started running more.”
A 27-yard TD pass from Whan to Dorsey got the Pioneers back within 21-12, but still two scores down with 9:44 to play because of a botched snap on the PAT.
French made a 37-yard field goal with 2:44 remaining for a 24-12 lead, and Allen capped it by breaking a 50-yard TD around right end with 2:06 left following his own interception.
“We tried to spread things out a little for Dwayne,” Rolando said. “When we play these bigger teams, they have trouble with a guy like Dwayne.”