It wasn't exactly smooth sailing for heavily favored Batavia on Friday night at Memorial Field in Elgin, but the Bulldogs still managed to navigate their way through some rough waters especially early on to defeat Larkin 35-6 in Upstate Eight River Division action.
The Bulldogs remained undefeated at 8-0, 5-0 and now play for the division title next week against St. Charles North, which is also undefeated in conference play.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over 3 times in the first half, including a fumble at the Larkin 1-yard line after marching 52 yards on the opening drive of the game. Batavia was also whistled for 10 penalties in the game.
The Bulldogs finally got on track late in the first quarter. A 71-yard run by Jeremiah Evers to the Larkin 17-yard line set up a 1-yard touchdown run 3 plays later by Jared Martin.
Batavia tacked on 2 more scores in the first half. A fumble recovery by John Golden at the Larkin 39 set up a 21-yard touchdown pass from Riley Cooper to Collin Richter for the Bulldog's second score. Martin added another touchdown run of 8 yards that capped a 95-yard, 10 play drive late in the second quarter to make it 21-0 at the half.
"I would liked to have come out and played better at the outset," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "But this Larkin team always comes out and plays us tough. It was one of those crazy games. There were some goofy things going on out there with the penalties and turnovers. That's the fifth time this year where we've had the ball at the 1-yard line and didn't score. We need to improve that. But it was just one of those games you had to battle through and I'm proud of the way our guys maintained their focus and rose to the occasion."
Larkin (3-5, 1-4) made it interesting with a long 80-yard touchdown drive to open the second half that nearly used 9 minutes of the clock. It culminated on an 8-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Ball to Jahari Stubbs to cut the deficit to 21-6.
However, Batavia shut the door from that point and added 2 late touchdowns. Quin Urwiler had a 10-yard touchdown run and following a Larkin interception Evers scored from 2 yards out.
Evers finished with a game-high 113 yards on 7 carries.
"It was just a matter of trusting my line and following their blocks," Evers said. "We came out a little shaky, but eventually got settled in. It feels great to stay undefeated. We set a lot of big goals and we are getting them done. Now we just need to keep doing it."
Martin finished with 62 yards rushing on 6 carries and another 40 yards on 4 receptions.
Kindrell Morris had 82 yards rushing to lead the Royals. Max Wickerchen and Pierre Black each had fumble recoveries and Stubbs added an interception for Larkin.
"We showed a lot of fight," Larkin coach Dragon Teonic said. "That's something we didn't do last week. So that was great to see. I'm proud of the way the kids battled. We made them earn it."