Jimmy Mitchell and the St. Charles East offense have seen some defensive pressure this season.
But nothing like Streamwood's defense.
The Sabres limited the Saints to 40 total yards in the first half and sacked Mitchell 4 times.
What East did have was some key defensive plays of its own, including 3 interceptions. The Saints used turnovers to hold off Streamwood 23-7 in the Upstate Eight River matchup at Streamwood's Millennium Field Friday night. The victory sets up a showdown for the River championship between unbeatens East and Batavia next week.
"They were bringing a lot of guys in the beginning," said Mitchell, who finished the game 8 for 15 for 188 yards and a touchdown. "We haven't seen a team yet that has brought that many people. We couldn't run the ball. We came out (in the second half) and wanted to make short pass plays."
Mitchell looked for slot and screen passes and completed 4 passes as the Saints (5-2, 4-0) ran out the final 7 minutes, 32 seconds of the game. East had a first-and-goal on the 1-yard line in the closing minute, but took a knee as time expired.
After holding Streamwood (2-5, 1-3) to a punt on its initial possession of the second half, the Saints needed only 4 plays to get into the end zone and extend their lead to 23-7 when Anderson pounded in an 11-yard touchdown run on the drive.
He had 3 carries for 31 yards on the scoring drive after totaling 18 yards on 10 carries in the first half.
"They were blowing us up on the line," East coach Mike Fields said. "They were pushing us back. We decided to take what they were giving us. Our defense played well."
Streamwood quarterback Mason Polich left after a hard hit on a designed run play. He did not return, leaving Tyler Hendershot to take over under center.
Despite not getting any reps at quarterback during practice, Hendershot hooked up with NIU recruit Blake Holder for a 35-yard gain on his second play forcing the Saints to remain in their prevent and cover 4 defense and not stack the box and focus solely on the run.
"Our defense played great football all night," Streamwood coach Cal Cummins said. "Tyler came in and did a really nice job. He's pretty limited (at quarterback) in practice."
Of the Sabres' final 4 possessions, 2 ended in turnovers and the other was a punt.
Mitchell initially hooked up with running back Erik Anderson on a 19-yard scoring play with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter. A missed extra point left the door open for the Sabres to take a 7-6 led when Polich hooked up with Deji Giwa on a 25-yard score.
Pat Frio made up for his missed extra point with a 37-yard field goal giving the Saints a 9-6 lead with 2:36 left in the first half.
Brannon Barry then got the first of his 2 interceptions and took it 55 yards to the house with just 13 seconds left in the first half to cushion the Saints' lead at 16-7.