FARMINGTON — After his team defeated Farmington 27-7 in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs, Paxton-Buckley-Loda coach Josh Pritchard said to his team, “Even a bus can’t slow us down.”
The opening kickoff was delayed 45 minutes due to PBL’s team bus breaking down in the middle of its 100-plus-mile journey on Towanda Barnes Rd. in Bloomington.
It took more than 45 minutes to get a rental bus in Normal, but the athletes used it as an opportunity to stretch their legs — and practice some plays in a nearby cornfield.
“We thought it was maybe a blessing in disguise,” Pritchard said. “We told our kids, ‘We don’t care when the lights come on — we’re going to play football.’”
With the win over fourth-seeded Farmington (8-3), fifth-seeded PBL (9-2) is quarterfinal-bound for the first time since 1998.
“I don’t even know how to put it in words,” senior Hunter Anderson said. “It’s such an amazing feeling.”
The Panthers went 75 yards in 12 plays on their opening drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run from Drake Schrodt that gave PBL a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, PBL got the ball on Farmington’s 9-yard line via a fumble recovery on a backward screen pass. Two plays later, Schrodt went 10 yards on a screen pass from Gunner Belt to extend the Panthers’ lead to 14-0.
On PBL’s first possession of the second half, Anderson scampered 37 yards to score a touchdown.
“Hunter Anderson’s an absolute animal,” Pritchard said. “We want to give the ball to our dudes, and our dude just made a lot of plays.”
Anderson also blocked a punt in the fourth quarter, scooped up the ball and returned it 5 yards for a touchdown that extended the Panthers’ lead to 27-7.
The Panthers will be on the road for the quarterfinals as they travel to face top-seeded Princeton (10-1).
Hawks still kicking. Prairie Central collected 28 consecutive points across the second, third and fourth quarters in Saturday’s Class 4A second-round bout with Columbia in Fairbury, and the 10th-seeded Hawks eventually held on for a 28-22 upset of the second-seeded Eagles (10-1).
Brandon Hoselton intercepted a Nic Horner pass late in the fourth quarter to wrap up a victory for Prairie Central (9-2), which has won two playoff games in a single season for the first time since 2006.
Connor Casner rushed for touchdowns of 12 and 3 yards for the Hawks to go with a Kaden King 29-yard dash and a Dailen Loveless 19-yard plunge. Loveless’ score proved the game-winner, though it put the Hawks ahead 28-7 with just 7 minutes, 17 seconds to play.
Next for Prairie Central is third-seeded Effingham (10-1) in the quarterfinals.
Rockets held up. Outside of a Micah Downs touchdown run in the third quarter, fourth-seeded Unity never got on track offensively in suffering a 31-6 defeat to 12th-seeded Bishop McNamara (8-3) on Saturday in Kankakee.
The Rockets (9-2) exited in the Class 4A playoffs’ second round after not even qualifying for the postseason a year ago.
“I’m really proud to say that I was the coach of the 2019 Unity Rockets,” Scott Hamilton said. “I’m very proud of what these kids accomplished and how hard they played.”