MACKINAW — Unbeaten and seemingly unstoppable, the Deer Creek-Mackinaw football juggernaut continued to roll along Friday night.
Sure, a steady second half rain forced the Chiefs to tap the brakes on occasion, but by then the hosts had already built a 32-6 cushion en route to a 40-20 triumph over El Paso-Gridley in a collision of state-ranked Heart of Illinois Conference Large Division rivals.
Led by Preston Lester's 123 rushing yards in 10 carries, five different Dee-Mack players scored touchdowns as the Class 2A No. 2 Chiefs improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the league.
El Paso-Gridley, ranked No. 7 in 2A, slipped to 3-1 and 1-1.
"We knew we weren't going to shut out everybody,'' said Dee-Mack coach Job Linboom, whose club took apart its first three opponents by a combined 147-0 margin, "And they (El Paso-Gridley) really made us work offensively, but we think we've got something to build on.''
Dee-Mack didn't waste any time, forcing a three-and-out on the opening series. Following a 16-yard EPG punt, all-state fullback Jared Reese capped a four-play, 51-yard drive with a 23-yard scoring dash just 3;09 into the game.
Dee-Mack's 12-quarter scoreless streak on defense came to an end when EPG countered with a 15-play, 76-yard march, culminating in a fourth down, 5-yard scoring pass from Jarrin Landrus to Dylan Reeves.
But just as quickly, Dee-Mack struck back when Derrick Baker and Alex Kerner hooked up on a 33-yard TD pass four snaps later for a 14-6 lead.
EPG then mounted another clock-chewing, 16-play, 84-yard drive, but Landrus was stacked up short on fourth-and-goal from the 1, and Dee-Mack zipped 99 yards in six plays with Lester scooting the final 38 for a 20-6 lead with 2:52 left in the half.
You have free articles remaining.
"That was huge,'' Linboom said. "Because until that quick swing, it was still a very good football game.''
Landrus then fumbled the snap two players later and Matt Switzer recovered on the EPG 30-yard line. Dee-Mack speedster Jacob Carnicle then darted 30 yards around left end on the next play for a 27-7 halftime cushion.
Connor Craig then returned the second-half kickoff 75 yards for the Chiefs and the rout was on.
Lester added a 28-yard TD early in the fourth quarter.
Landrus scored on a one-yard sneak for EPG and tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Austin McWethey with just seven seconds left in the game.
Reese added 87 yards in six carries as Dee-Mack piled up 234 rushing yards.
"We have two legitimate power back (Lester and Reese),'' said Linboom said. "That's a luxury we haven't had in the past.''
Landrus completed 8 of 17 passes for 115 yards for EPG, while season-leading rusher Tyler Russell was limited to 66 yards in 21 carries.