MAHOMET — Joe Kenney threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns to lead Mahomet-Seymour to a 35-13 Class 4A first-round playoff win against Manteno on Saturday.
The Bulldogs scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to end a four-game losing streak in playoff openers.
“We’ve had that monkey on our back for a while,” M-S coach Keith Pogue said. “No one on our team (Saturday) had ever experienced a state playoff win, and that was pretty much what we talked to them about these past few days. We told them they had a chance to do something really special. It wasn’t do-or-die or anything like that. But I think down deep, our players really wanted to make a statement and keep playing. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Senior Cully Day caught four passes — three for TDs — for 130 yards, and the M-S defense slammed the door when it needed to, sending the Bulldogs (9-1) into a second-round game against Rock Island Alleman at Frank Dutton Field.
Alleman beat Chillicothe IVC 41-0.
Pogue said the Bulldogs will need to play “much better” against Alleman, a Western Big Six team that limited opponents to 14 or fewer points in seven games this season.
“The good news is we have another week to get that done, and I’m sure our kids are excited about the opportunity to play a very good Alleman team,” Pogue said.
M-S jumped ahead 14-0 as Kenney hooked up with Day and Tyler Francisco for touchdown passes. The lead went to 21-0 when, on a third-and-16 play from the M-S 41, Kenney handed to Francisco, who pitched to Tom Kenney, who launched a 59-yard TD pass to Day.
After Manteno closed to 21-13 heading into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs went 65 yards on eight plays to regain the momentum. A 26-yard pass to Thomas Bane and three runs by Francisco keyed the drive, capped by Francisco’s 10-yard TD sprint with 9:03 left.
On its next possession, M-S capped a 16-play, seven-minute drive on Joe Kenney’s 2-yard burst to advance to the second round for the first time since 2008.
“Our defense really stepped up,” Pogue said. “Our kids really delivered some blows.”