Batavia tops Lemont

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/25/2017 11:26 PM

Riley Cooper, Eric Peterson and the rest of the Batavia offensive lineup paid back a debt to their defense in the waning seconds before halftime Friday night.

"I was going to take a knee," Batavia football coach Dennis Piron admitted.

"If we could get a first down, we were going to take a shot," said Cooper, the Bulldogs' quarterback.

The Bulldogs' eventual 21-0 nonconference victory over Lemont did not seem so secure from an offensive perspective after Batavia committed its fair share of squandered opportunities at home in the opening half.

But Cooper directed a 75-yard drive in four plays in a half-minute-plus to more than double the Bulldogs' lead with a culminating 25-yard post pattern to Peterson with six seconds remaining before the intermission.

"The post pattern (to Peterson) was definitely in our game plan," said Cooper, who accounted for all three Batavia touchdowns with scoring strikes through the air.

Peterson and Cooper collaborated on an earlier fourth-and-goal connection from the Indians' 7- yard line to open the scoring earlier in the second quarter.

"There was an element of gamesmanship, quite honestly," Piron said of his decision-making process in the closing seconds before halftime. "The whole game changed."

Cooper, who finished the game 15-for-22 through the air for 196 yard, hit Tommy Stuttle for 39 yards along the far sideline to give Batavia ideal field position during the last-second drive.

The Batavia (1-0) score seemed like a landslide of points entering the break considering the masterful work the Bulldogs' defense authored in the first two quarters.

"I knew the defense was going to keep us going," Cooper said of early missed opportunities.

Lemont (0-1) gained its only first down of the first half on its opening drive.

Despite being plus-2 in turnovers for the half, the Indians' five drives before halftime netted all of 43 yards in 18 collective touches.

"We have been working a lot in the off-season," said Batavia sophomore Quin Utwiler, who performed brilliantly with his fellow linebackers the entire game. "We have really good `communication. We started to figure out (how to contain Austin Nagel, the Indians' most dangerous offensive threat). He didn't do much (after catching the ball)."

Lemont ended the game with 7 first downs.

"We made some subtle adjustments (defensively)," Piron said.

"They did a nice job defensively," Lemont coach Jerry Kooi said. "We didn't put ourselves in situational football a lot. We would have third-and-five and were trying to get 15. We weren't moving the chains."

On his opening third-quarter drive, Cooper -- four plays after a fourth-down screen conversion to Elijah Green -- found Collin Richter wide open from 9 yards out for the lone second-half points.

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