The path to becoming playoff eligible for the first time since 2009 was not exactly smooth sailing for St. Charles East on Friday night, but more like a bumpy ride down a long and winding road.
Nonetheless, the Saints arrived at their intended destination, capturing their fifth win of the season with a 23-7 victory at Streamwood in an Upstate Eight River meeting.
The Saints (5-2, 4-0) overcame a rather anemic offensive output of only 193 total yards, including just 49 yards in the first half, with big plays on defense and special teams.
“It was just one of those ugly games,” said East coach Mike Fields. “Our kids came out flat, and give credit to Streamwood, they came out and took us right out of our offense in that first half. But we still managed to find other ways to get it done. And sometimes that is what you have to do.”
A fumble recovery by Anthony Sciarrino at the Streamwood 19-yard line late in the first quarter set up the game’s first score. Two plays later Saints quarterback Jimmy Mitchell swung a pass to Eric Anderson in the right flank and Anderson dodged a couple defenders on his way to the end zone to make it 6-0.
The Saints returned the favor in the second quarter when they coughed up the ball at their own 43-yard line. The Sabres (2-5, 1-3) cashed in with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Mason Polich to Deji Giwa and an extra point kick from Kris Imeri to pull ahead 7-6 with 4:11 left in the first half.
St. Charles East managed to turn the tide just before halftime. Following the Sabres touchdown, Mitch Munroe returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards down to the Streamwood 22-yard line. That set up a 37-yard field goal for Pat Frio to put the Saints back on top 9-7.
Then with just 13 seconds left in the half Saints defensive back Brannon Barry picked off a deflected pass and returned 47 yards for a touchdown to extend the East lead to 16-7.
“Those were big plays,” said Fields. “And that’s what you need when the offense is struggling. Streamwood has some great athletes on offense and our defense played very well against them all night and made the big plays.”
East took advantage of a short field again on its first possession of the second half, going 35 yards to add another insurance touchdown on an 11-yard run by Anderson (20 rushes, 72 yards).
“I thought our defense played very well again tonight,” said Streamwood coach Cal Cummins. “But the offense and kicking game kind of let us down. We turned it over too much and gave them good field position all game.”