The Du-Pec Rivermen traveled to Stillman Valley to face off with the Cardinals on Nov. 4 in the 3A playoffs. Stillman lead in the first half, but in the end the Rivermen pounded out a 50-19 victory. For the first time, Du-Pec will now advance to the quarterfinals, where they will go up against the number one ranked Byron Tigers next Saturday, Nov. 11. Pictured here, Jaylen Noud (#5) channels his inner track star and hurdles over defender for a touchdown run.

    The Durand-Pecatonica Rivermen made football program history with a victory over Stillman Valley in round two of the Illinois 3A playoffs.  For the first time, the Rivermen have advanced to the third round of the postseason.

Through two rounds of postseason games, the Rivermen have played in two similar experiences.  In round one, Du-Pec faced off with a tough Oregon Hawks team.  A defensive battle in the first half left the Rivermen with a one-score lead entering the break.  Then, Du-Pec had a massive second half on their way to a 34-0 victory.  That’s not how you write the script for victory, but as it turns out, that round one matchup had the Rivermen prepared for round two.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, the Rivermen faced off with a 6-4 Stillman Valley Cardinals squad.  Stillman Valley’s overall record was hindered by a tough schedule as three of their four losses came against Dixon, North Boone, and Byron.

The Cardinals were hoping to pull off an upset over the Rivermen, last Saturday. The game even started out in a similar fashion.  On the first offensive play of the game, quarterback, Cooper Hoffman, tucked it and ran 62 yards to paydirt.  A successful extra point gave the Rivermen an early 7-0 lead.

Stillman Valley would respond with a quick touchdown of their own, however, just two minutes of play later, the Cardinals tied the game when they plunged into the endzone from one yard out.

Midway through the first, Du-Pec jumped back into the lead when Jaylen Noud found the endzone.  Noud, who plays a versatile role on the Rivermen offense, trucked into the endzone from just two yards out.

Once again, it didn’t take long for the Cardinals to respond.  In the early moments of the second quarter, the Cardinals found the endzone again.  This time, a missed extra point left Stillman Valley trailing the Rivermen 14-13.

Just a few minutes later, the Cardinals took their first lead of the day.  After a short drive stalled for the Rivermen, the Cardinals took a six-point lead.  Despite the early success for the Du-Pec offense, they were unable to put points on the board in the second quarter.  Eventually, the Rivermen went into the break trailing 14-19.

There was no need to worry, however.  After last week, Du-Pec knew they could rely on their second half adjustments, and they came out looking fresh in the second half.  After allowing 12 unanswered points to end the first half, the Rivermen came out and dominated the second.

Midway through the third quarter, Hoffman tallied his second touchdown of the day.  This time, Hoffman took it four yards into the endzone, before adding on the two-point conversion.  Du-Pec took a 22-19 lead, which held until the start of the fourth quarter.

That final quarter is where everything came together for the Rivermen.  Du-Pec started the fourth with the ball on Stillman Valley’s eight-yard line. Hoffman proceeded to take the first play of the quarter into the endzone, which put him over two hundred rushing yards with three scores on the day.

The Cardinals crumbled under the pressure of a two score lead in the final quarter.  Just moments after Hoffman put the Rivermen up 29-19, the Cardinals tossed an interception which was nabbed by Jordan Gassman.  Gassman returned the interception near the endzone, before fumbling and having it recovered by Trey Jones for a touchdown.

The Rivermen never looked back after that.  Midway through the fourth, Hoffman got a score through the air as he connected with Drew Williams on a forty-five-yard touchdown pass.  The extra point put Du-Pec up 42-19.

The touchdown score got Williams fired up and he let it show on the ensuing defensive drive.  Williams snagged an interception of his own, helping to seal the deal late.  Connor Hughes put the finishing touches on the Cardinals as his 47-yard touchdown run gave Du-Pec a 50-19 lead.

After two tough first halves in the postseason, the Rivermen have come out and dominated the second halves.  Their halftime adjustments have proven to be key, but they will need four quarters of complete football if they want to move on to round four.

In round three, the Rivermen face off with the Byron Tigers, who are 11-0 on the year.  Byron has outscored their opponents 665-52 this season.  The Rivermen will travel to face off with the Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 1 p.m.

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