STREAMWOOD – St. Charles East didn’t generate much offense Friday night at Millennium Field, but the opportunistic Saints took advantage of four Streamwood turnovers to come away with a 23-7 victory in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play.
The biggest turnover came just before halftime. With East (5-2 overall, 4-0 UEC River) protecting a two-point lead, Brannon Barry intercepted a Mason Polich pass and returned it 49 yards down the left sideline to give the Saints a 16-7 lead at the break.
“We were in a cover-4, which means I come in and one of our linebackers comes out,” Barry said. “It’s a team game, like we always say, and the cornerback and the linebacker did their job. I was right behind them. … I just took it and ran and they blocked downfield.”
Barry also came up with some big pass receptions down the stretch, catching a pair on East’s final drive of the game, which ended at the Streamwood 1-yard line after the Saints ran off the final 7:37 on the clock.
East drove the ball 85 yards on that drive, and Barry said the offense was trying to prove something after a lackluster effort much of the night.
“We were,” he said. “We came out the whole game and we were saying, ‘Pick up the intensity. Pick up the intensity.’ The thing we’ve got to work on is to come out at the start of the game and play four quarters. … That last drive, we just wanted to seal the win.”
Fumbles set up touchdowns for each team in the first half. The Saints recovered a fumble by Kyle Strong at the Streamwood 18-yard-line late in the first quarter. One play later, East quarterback Jimmy Mitchell rolled to his right and hit Erik Anderson along the right sideline. Anderson eluded a pair of defenders and ran 19 yards for a touchdown to give East a 6-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Streamwood linebacker Tyler Hendershot recovered a fumble at the East 43. Polich scrambled for a first down on third-and-8, then hit Deji Giwa splitting the safeties down the middle for a 25-yard touchdown. The extra point gave the Sabres a 7-6 lead, but it didn’t last long. Mitch Munroe returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards, cutting across the field and rolling down the right sideline to the Streamwood 22. The Saints were unable to move the ball and settled for a 37-yard field goal by Pat Frio.
The Saints scored their third touchdown of the game early in the third quarter after a short punt gave them the ball at the Streamwood 35. Anderson worked his way down the right side of the East line before finding an opening to carry the ball across the goal line from 11 yards out.
Anderson gained 64 yards on 20 carries.
“I thought we came out horribly flat the first half,” East coach Mike Fields said. “I thought Joe [Hoscheit] had a real nice second half. I thought [quarterback] Jimmy Mitchell had a real nice second half. Brannon Barry got involved a little bit. Erik, I think, played a good game, but when you’ve got eight guys in the box and they’re coming after you like that, it’s tough to get Erik free.”
The victory made the Saints playoff eligible. Defensive back Anthony Sciarrino, who had a pair of interceptions, said there is still work to be done.
“It feels good, but we need six [wins],” he said. “Five’s good. Coach Fields says you can’t get six until you get five and we got five tonight.”
Getting six will not be easy as the Saints host Batavia next Friday night.
ST. CHARLES EAST 23, STREAMWOOD 7
St. Charles East 6 10 7 0 – 23
Streamwood 0 7 0 0 – 7 HOW THEY SCORED
First quarter STCE – Anderson 19 pass from Mitchell (kick failed), 2:13 Second quarter S – Giwa 25 pass from M. Polich (Imeri kick), 4:11 STCE – Frio 37 FG, 2:36 STCE – Barry 49 interception return (Frio kick) 0:13 Third quarter STCE – Anderson 11 run (Frio kick), 9:30 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING – St. Charles East: Anderson 20-64, Hoscheit 11-35, Mitchell 5-minus 28. Totals: 26-71. Streamwood: Brown 9-6, Strong 2-2, M. Polich 6-14, Giwa 1-4, Hendershot 8-3. Totals: 26-29. PASSING – St. Charles East: Mitchell 8-15-0-97. Streamwood: M. Polich 8-14-2-73, Hendershot 3-8-1-47.RECEIVING – St. Charles East: Anderson 2-28, Barry 4-34, Hoscheit 2-35. Streamwood: Brown 3-19, Strong 2-23, Giwa 2-30, Holder 4-48.TOTAL YARDS – St. Charles East 168, Streamwood 149.