Pekin runs all over New London to start season
A tough Pekin team had its way with New London Friday. The Tigers made improvements later in the game but came up short, falling to the visiting Panthers by a score of 55-13.
“I’m disappointed in the way we came out; I think we came out flat and let the heat get in our heads,” New London Coach Brad Helmerson said. “We gave up a couple big plays and started to hang our heads, but eventually we (snapped out) of that.”
Pekin got on the board early, getting in the end zone twice in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead.
They had taken a 41-7 lead by halftime, and added two more scores in the second half.
“They’re a good football team, and we aren’t quite ready to play at that level,” Helmerson said.
The Tigers scored their first touchdown in the second quarter when Quincy Porter found room to run along the sideline and broke away for a 90-yard kick return. Tyler Mettler’s PAT attempt was good.
According to Helmerson, the Tigers had opportunities to do more damage on their kick returns, but have to improve their blocking.
“We missed a key block occasionally; otherwise, we might have had a couple better returns,” Helmerson.
Pekin’s defense was rarely on the field. The Panthers dominated the clock with long rushing drives.
New London’s other score came at the end of the third quarter, when Tyler Shinkle capped a long drive with a five-yard carry into the end zone.
Shinkle finished with a team-high 84 rushing yards on the night, averaging 10.5 yards per carry.
Tristan Kadel ran for 32 yards, while Jayden Flowers picked up 20 yards and Austin McBeth had 16.
“In the second half, we cleared up some confusion and had a couple nice drives,” Helmerson said. “But we still have quite a bit of growing to do.”
Pekin’s strong start is exactly how head coach Joe Donovan wanted to start off the season.
The Panthers rushed for 424 yards on 43 attempts. Tanner Adam rushed for 186 yards and Chase Copeland added 147 yards of his own. Pekin scored all eight of its touchdowns on the ground. The team only completed one pass, but they never needed to put the ball in the air.
Pekin hosts Sigourney-Keota in week two of the season.