LAWRENCEVILLE, Ill. — When two football teams are locked in a defensive struggle, the winning team is generally the one that catches a few lucky breaks. Unfortunately for Lawrenceville on its homecoming Saturday, that team was visiting Casey.
A fortuitous bounce led to the Warriors breaking a scoreless tie midway through the second quarter, and they dominated possession in the second half to put away a 17-8 Little Illini Conference victory.
The Indians (1-5 overall, LIC) managed just 168 yards of offense, but received a late jolt from Dayman Parkman, who took a kickoff return back 90 yards for a score. Christion Beamon was Lawrenceville's offensive leader with 62 rushing yards on nine touches. Brenyn Winningham, who made a surprise appearance after being sidelined last week with an injury, threw for 48 yards on 8-of-16 passing.
Indians coach Travis Reider said Casey's size advantage on the line played a factor.
“We couldn't (move the ball). They were bigger than us up front, and that hurt us,” he said. “I can't fault our effort. We're undersized, but every one of our guys is working their tail off right now, and I couldn't be prouder. We're close. We had our chances, but we just didn't capitalize.
“(Brenyn) played a little more than I thought he would. He was cleared late Thursday and got a full practice in Friday. We decided to use him on a limited basis, and he played pretty well considering the time he's missed.”
After a stalemate through the first quarter and a half, a pair of penalties —which plagued the Warriors all game — put Casey at 1st-and-25 from its own 12-yard line. Quarterback Aden Brenton threw a deep pass down the right side that Blayne Winningham deflected. The tipped pass ricocheted directly to intended receiver Thor Stepina, who caught the pass in stride and raced unimpeded the final 60 yards in an 88-yard scoring strike. Austin Schumacher's extra point made it 7-0 with 5:46 before the half.
The margin stood into the half. Casey (3-3 overall, LIC) didn't score on its opening drive of the second half but ran off 4:33 in eight plays, a theme that proved to be Lawrenceville's undoing. After swapping punts, the Indians had their best chance to tie after a pair of nice runs by Beamon and a 15-yard facemask penalty moved them to Casey's 31. But consecutive penalties followed, and Lawrenceville ultimately turned it over on downs.
The Warriors needed just six plays to make it a two score margin, as Storm Washburn rushed in from 4 yards away with 11:27 showing in the fourth.
Casey took back over at the Lawrenceville 29 following a fake-punt run by Jordan Jones that was a yard shy. The Indians' defense held strong by keeping the Warriors out of the end zone, but Schumacher's 19-yard field goal capped off an eight-play drive that took over five minutes and made it a three-score game.
Parkman's kickoff return, which was followed by a Jones two-point reception, gave the crowd some life, but Casey racked up four more first downs to run out the final 4:30.
“Dayman is a heck of an athlete, and he's an explosive player. We have to do a better job of getting the ball in his hands out in space,” Reider said. “We missed a lot of tackles on the outside, and that killed us (on Casey's final possession).”
Washburn, who entered as the conference's leading rusher, was held in check most of the game. He finished with 73 yards on 17 carries, but over half of that came on two rushes, his first and last of the second half.
Casey was hampered by 16 penalties for 125 yards, with most of them false starts, but the Warriors made up for it by possessing the ball over 75 percent of the second half. Casey's second-half plays outnumbered Lawrenceville, 31-14.
The Indians visit Robinson at 7 p.m. CDT Friday.
CASEY 17, LAWRENCEVILLE 8
First downs |13 |9
by rushing |6 |3
by passing |5 |4
by penalty |2 |2
Rushes-yards |37-136 |23-80
Passing (C-A-I) |8-14-1 |11-24-1
Passing yards |179 |88
Total yards |315 |168
Fumbles-lost |2-0 |1-1
Penalties-yards |16-125 |7-58
Punts-avg. |5-26.8 |3-49.0
Time of possession |30:02 |17:58
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Casey |0-7-0-10 — 17
Lawrenceville |0-0-0-8 — 8
C — Thor Stepina 88 pass from Aden Brenton (Austin Schumacher kick) 5:46 2nd qtr.
C — Storm Washburn 4 run (Schumacher kick) 11:27 4th qtr.
C — FG Schumacher 19, 4:44 4th qtr.
L — Dayman Parkman 90 kickoff return (Jordan Jones from Brenyn Winningham) 4:30 4th qtr.
RUSHING — Casey: Washburn 17-73 (TD), Nate Fouty 9-48, A.J. Stepina 8-28, Brenton 3-(-13). Lawrenceville: Christon Beamon 9-62, Br. Winningham 5-15, Jones 1-5, Skyler Tewell 1-0, Blayne Winningham 3-(-1), Parkman 4-(-1).
PASSING — Casey: Brenton 7-11-1, 147 (TD); A. Stepina 1-3-0, 32. Lawrenceville: Br. Winningham 8-16-1, 48; Bl. Winningham 3-8-0, 40.
RECEIVING — Casey: T. Stepina 1-88 (TD), Collin Branson 2-33, Fouty 1-30, Jackson Hills 3-19, Dawson Dallape 1-9. Lawrenceville: Parkman 4-30, Eli Ivers 2-20, Bl. Winningham 2-13, Beamon 1-10, Jones 1-9, Tewell 1-6.