GALESBURG — The Alleman football team did an awful lot of things wrong Friday night.
It turned the ball over five times, four times in the second half. It was flagged for a dozen penalties.
But it somehow still found a way to come away with a victory, holding off Galesburg 28-20 in a hard-fought and occasionally controversial battle at F&M Bank Stadium.
The victory pushes the Pioneers’ record to 4-4, 2-3 in the Western Big Six, and keeps alive their hopes for a playoff berth. They finish the season next Friday at Chicago Heights Bloom.
"It was definitely a frustrating game, but I’m glad we were able to pull it out," Alleman coach Todd Depoorter said. “I was very happy for our seniors to be able to win their final conference game. A win is a win, and at this point in the season, that’s what we needed.’’
Nate Sheets rushed for 228 yards in 24 carries and pretty much put an end to Galesburg’s upset hopes by bolting 54 yards for a touchdown with 4 minutes, 50 seconds remaining.
Only a few minutes earlier, it seemed the Silver Streaks (1-7, 1-4 Big Six) were about to tie the score.
Following an interception in the end zone by Nikolas Deligiannis — his third turnover of the night — Galesburg drove the length of the field as quarterback Connor Aten completed passes of 36, 11 and 22 yards. Running back Kobe Ramirez appeared to have scored on a 3-yard run.
The officials ruled he had been stopped short of the goal line, though. In the ensuing discussion, the Streaks were hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, then took a delay of game penalty.
On the next play, Aten’s pass into the end zone was picked off by Sheets.
After grinding out two first downs, Sheets took off on his scoring run.
"He’s very explosive, very quick and elusive," Depoorter said. "He’s been banged up. This was his first full week of practice in awhile."
Galesburg wasn’t done. It bounced back with a 13-play, 76-yard drive, capped by Aten’s 11-yard scoring pass to Dewon Pulley. The Streaks’ attempt at a two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 28-20.
The Pioneers were then able to run out the clock as Sam Mattecheck charged for an 11-yard gain on third-and-8. It gave Mattecheck a 100-yard night, too, although he also accounted for four of the Pioneers’ turnovers.
Depoorter rejected the idea that the unseasonably cold weather caused six Alleman fumbles, four of which were lost. It did ultimately lead the Pioneers to trim down their playbook.
"It was pretty basic," he said "I think we only ran four or five different plays in the second half."
Alleman held a 14-0 halftime lead thanks mostly to a couple of very fortunate breaks on fumbles in the final minutes of the half.
Already holding a 7-0 lead, Sheets caught a short pass from Mattecheck on a fourth-down play but fumbled along the sideline at the 1-yard line. The ball squirted forward and was caught in the end zone for a touchdown by the Pioneers’ Jonathan Fernandez, upping the lead to 14-0.
Alleman got the ball back following an interception, but Mattecheck fumbled and this time the ball landed in the hands of Deligiannis, who raced 32 yards for an apparent touchdown. The officials inadvertently blew the whistle, however, and waved off the touchdown.
The Silver Streaks got the ball with 36.9 seconds to go in the half but not the points.
They ended up attempting a 42-yard field goal that sailed wide left as time ran out in the half.
Sheets had scored the first touchdown of the game on a 2-yard run in the final minute of the first quarter. That capped an 80-yard march in which a majority of the yardage came on his 46-yard run.