“We pretty much ran power football all night,” Clubb, who finished the game-opening drive with the first of his two touchdown runs, said. “It was power left and power right. Our lineman just tore it up for us and we just had to run behind them.”
Even if Lone Tree had been gifted with better starting field position due to a Panther miscue, there was little the Lions likely would have been able to do with it. Lone Tree was limited to just 52 total yards of offense, most of which came in the fourth quarter with Pekin already up by 43.
And while Lone Tree (6-4) struggled to establish its offense, Pekin (8-2) continued to pour it on in the downpour. Copeland’s 17-yard score capped a second straight touchdown drive for the offense before a 43-yard burst by Tanner Adam and Clubb’s second score capped a second quarter that was also owned by the Panthers, leading to a 36-0 lead at the half of the Lions.
“Coach (Joe Donovan) was kind of worried at the start of the game. He wasn’t sure if our intensity was where it should be,” Clubb said. “Lone Tree kind of came out thinking they had a chance, but we started playing at a high tempo. We turned it up once the game got going and, once we got that defensive score, (Lone Tree) I think wanted it to be halftime.”
No. 10 Pekin is now two wins away from a trip to the UNI-Dome for the first time since the 2007 season. Having finally erased its recent postseason curse on Wednesday, the Panthers will look to exercise some recent postseason demons on Monday as Pekin heads to No. 8 Lisbon (8-2), who handed the Panthers its most recent first-round exit last year 14-0 at home.
“We heard all the statistics about how Pekin always loses in the postseason,” Clubb said. “This year has been kind of a reverse-the-curse kind of a deal. To put that on top of everything else, you’ve got a team with a lot of hope and a lot of determination.”