After being held scoreless for the last 9 quarters, Streamwood came to a tipping point and posed a clear message for Larkin.
"We really wanted to get a point across that we could score," Sabres wideout Blake Holder said. "We felt that we played three really good teams the past three weeks and we felt we had to come out and prove something and we feel like we did."
With losses to Geneva (33-0) last week, Waubonsie Valley (56-0) the week before that and a 27-7 loss to Dundee-Crown in Week 2, Streamwood's offense was lost in the woods. The Sabres' last scoring play came in the third quarter against Dundee-Crown and something had to give, even in the mud and rain during Larkin's homecoming.
So Holder and Streamwood did just that. Holder's 75-yard punt return on Larkin's second punt of the game was clear evidence of the things to come for the Sabres (2-3, 1-1) in their 27-0 win over Upstate Eight River rival Larkin at Memorial Field Friday night in Elgin.
The scoring didn't stop with Holder. Defensive back Austin Mugnai intercepted the Royals 3 times and returned a pass 50 yards for a pick-6 while both running backs Kyle Strong (15 carries, 96 yards) and Lenard Brown (11 carries, 87 yards) each rushed for touchdowns in the second half in a shopping spree of points for Streamwood, which had scored 27 points all season.
"The momentum came our way, we really thought we could get a punt return on these guys," Streamwood coach Cal Cummins said. "We just haven't had too many opportunities this year and we finally got that one. Then the interception return just created that momentum and I think it really put their backs to the wall and they got a little frustrated. "
Streamwood fed off Larkin's frustration and its 5 turnovers. The Royals (2-3, 1-2) were penalized 9 times for 92 yards and of their 11 drives, 2 resulted in punts and fumbles each. Three came on interceptions and two of which came on loss of downs. After Holder's 75-yard outburst with 5:15 in the first quarter, Mugnai picked Larkin's Kemmerin Blalark at the 3:52 mark to make it 14-0 Streamwood, the start of 3 Royal drives which resulted in turnovers.
"We talked about not kicking to (Holder)," Larkin coach Mike Scianna exclaimed. "And what did we do? We kicked the ball to him. And the kid who was supposed to contain it had a pulled hamstring. He said 'coach I tried.' I said 'I know.' If he had a good hamstring he still might not have had him. He's fast."
Mugnai was too, but barely made it in at the goal line at a muddy, torn up Memorial Field. saying he "never had a three interception day before."
Larkin's Mo Jackson had back-to-back 100 yard rushing games coming in but was held to just 62 on 12 carries, 33 of which came on a rush to the outside in the fourth when the game was out of reach.
But Cummins felt that with a full roster of healthy Sabres, they could really come out and run the ball better than of late and he kept going to it.
"It's scary when some of their guys get to touch the ball," Cummins said, whose team outrushed Larkin 173-163. "We thought and we felt we needed to start to run the ball better, so that was a pleasant, I don't want to say surprise, but a pleasant ending to the night."
Larkin actually outgained Streamwood in total yards 252-228 but a banged up offensive line couldn't protect Blalark as he got sacked twice. The Royals had a shot to close within 7 points in the second quarter on a 7-play, 67-yard drive which ended at the Sabre 3 when Jackson had the ball poked away and recovered by Holder.
"We're banged up, we're hurt all the way across the board. We're hurt," Scianna said, which included his offensive line which had multiple injuries. "We had a dislocated shoulder, dislocated elbow, we got a rib problem on one, a high ankle sprain on another, we're usually pounding the ball a little bit better than that but we were getting beat up. When we're lifting up with our 300-pounders, we're in big trouble."
Strong's TD came from 22 yards on the first drive of the second half. Brown's 3-yard run came on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Holder hauled in 2 passes for 55 yards while Dante Bonds for Larkin grabbed 2 catches for 78 yards. Larkin only achieved 9 first downs, 5 in the first half.