Before Dundee-Crown went out and defeated Elgin 36-22 at Memorial Field Saturday in a rescheduled game from Friday night, Kiwi Seals and Malik Dunner mutually agreed that whoever received the opening kickoff, one of them was going to pull a Devin Hester and run it back to the house.
"I said (to Dunner), ‘bro if you get it, I got you, we're running it back, no matter what,' " said Seals. "And (Friday night's game) got postponed two seconds before the kickoff (Friday) and so it was the same thing (Saturday): run it back."
Seals ended up with it after all, and after making a move down the right sideline he was gone 88 yards in a flash for the Chargers' first score of the season. D-C (1-0) never looked back in nonconference action and Dunner got his eventually. The Ball State recruit rushed for 3 touchdowns on 170 yards, one score a 54-yard bolt down the left sideline for D-C's third-straight win over the Maroons, who have lost 13-straight games.
"He told me he was going to run it back," Dunner said of Seals. "He had great blocking by everyone. I thought ‘man, oh my god, really?' That was a big momentum builder and I think we built right off that in the beginning."
Elgin (0-1) was outrushed 263-99 and outgained 303-299 in total yards but passed for 200. But the Maroons committed 3 turnovers, which helped D-C coach Mike Steinhaus earn the first win of his coaching career.
"It's a fun way to start. And we practice (kick returns) a lot," Steinhaus said. "I told our guys, ‘be prepared, we do a lot of things and that's something we expect to do and (Dunner and Seals) give us an opportunity to do that. We can do some special things so it was a nice start. There's a lot of little things we can learn from (Saturday's) game."
After D-C went up 16-0 in the second quarter when Dunner scored from 1-yard out on an 8-play, 54-yard drive, Elgin bounced back in stoic fashion with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that quarterback Terrance Miller-Allen capped with a pass to Tyrese Riley for a 2-yard touchdown. Riley also converted on the subsequent 2-point conversion to make it 16-8 with 5:04 left in the second quarter. It wasn't the only time Maroons would rally.
"Coming from where we were at last year playing against them, I think we've taken the right strides," Maroons' second-year coach Kyle Rohde said. "I think the kids' attitudes got calmed down a little, our response was a lot better than over the last two years."
Miller-Allen replaced starter Dontrell Gaddy, who left midway through the scoring drive for injury. Miller-Allen completed 10 of 14 passes for 146 yards while rushing 7 times for 64 yards, including 3 touchdowns (2 run, 1 pass). Although he fumbled late in the first half on a drive that had promise, the junior provided Rohde with a quarterback controversy he wants to squash quick.
"The biggest question always been consistency from either one of them," said Rohde, who watched Gaddy throw for 74 yards on 7 for 16 passing and 1 interception with 45 yards on the ground. "I don't like the two-quarterback system or anything like that. I think that's tough to run and I have to make a choice and stick with a guy, see where we end up."
But turnovers and 18 penalties for 168 yards for Elgin will be of something for a team like D-C to capitalize on. An interception by D-C's Nick Musielewicz at the Charger 29 turned into a 4-yard run by Dunner that gave the Chargers their largest lead, 29-8, late in the third quarter. Then Steinhaus called Brandon Brooks' number 13 times, and the senior amassed 85 yards and a 19-yard score in the fourth.
"Running the ball takes a teams will away and that's something you have to do when you're in that situation," Steinhaus said. "I‘ll take my hats off to them, they fought really hard. Elgin is a much improved team and coach Rohde is doing a (heck) of a job getting them to fight."
Gaddy also finished with 3 catches for 80 yards. Seals had 4 catches for 46 yards. Miller- Allen also completed his first 6 passes, his second for a touchdown.
"The turnovers is what we need to fix," said Miller-Allen. "We would have been back in the game, we would have won this game."