GILMAN As St. Edward running back DeVontae Elam reached the secondary on a run in the first half of his team's game with Iroquois West on Friday, a defender closed in on him.
The sophomore juked left just before contact, quickly regained full speed and raced down the center of the field for a 65-yard touchdown run that broke the game open for the Green Wave.
"I watched a lot of Walter Payton," said Elam, with a smile, about his move after a 55-6 win Friday in Gilman.
With teammate Luke Duffy nursing a sore hamstring, Elam took the bulk of the carries for St. Edward, which ran again and again against an overwhelmed Iroquois West defense. Elam totaled 267 yards and 3 touchdowns on 16 carries.
"He's a very special, gifted running back," said St. Edward coach Mike Rolando.
"When he gets in the open field, he can make some great things happen."
St. Edward missed opportunities early in the game and allowed Iroquois West to stay close.
The Green Wave failed to score on a fumble recovery deep in Raiders' territory, and a pair of passes went off the fingertips of St. Edward receivers.
Midway through the second quarter, it was a one-touchdown game.
After Elam's run gave the Green Wave (2-0) breathing room, the St. Edward defense forced a punt.
With 1:33 left in the half, the Green Wave engineered a 77-yard touchdown drive, running the team's two-minute offense to perfection. Senior quarterback Bob French completed 3 passes on the drive, including a touchdown toss to senior Matt Brockner with 12 seconds left.
"We had been working on it all week," French said. "That's the first thing we did at the beginning of practice, and out here, everything started to click."
The game quickly turned lopsided in the second half, and 3 late turnovers by Iroquois West added to the damage. In all, St. Edward recovered 4 fumbles and intercepted 2 passes, including one that was taken back 48 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Dennis Turnquist.
But that doesn't mean the unit was happy.
"The defense was disappointed with giving up those six points," Rolando said, "but they ran that option a lot better than we anticipated. That quarterback ran it great."
The Raiders only score came in the second quarter, when Iroquois West quarterback Jordan Hansen faked a handoff and kept the ball. St. Edward was momentarily fooled, giving Hansen just enough time to slip into the end zone.
"We don't like to be scored on," said St. Edward defensive back Sean Richmond. "We like to get as many shutouts as possible. We all just buckled down. We started getting on each other and that's what we really needed to be more disciplined."
From there, Iroquois West struggled to move the ball, and St. Edward rolled to an important victory. With the conference season looming, wins in the first two weeks were crucial.
"If we want to get five wins and make the playoffs, we have to win our two preseason games," Rolando said. "These two games for us are like playoff games. It's huge."