PACKWOOD — After the third touchdown by BGM’s Noah Beck, Pekin High School football coach Brent Blakely just shook his head.
No matter what the Panthers tried defensively, there was no stopping the all-state back.
Beck ran 34 times for 301 yards and four touchdowns to lift the Bears to a key 27-14 Class A District 6 win Friday at Tom Stone Field. BGM (5-2, 2-1 district), which suffered a tough loss to Belle Plaine last week, put itself back in the district title conversation.
“He’s a special back. He’s very elusive, and we had to be disciplined. That’s been a struggle for us this year,” Blakely said. “When you have that, and facing a player like that, it’s a bad concoction.”
The Panthers trailed 20-0 at halftime, but BGM set the tone by marching down the field on the opening drive of a crisp evening. Beck was involved in every play on that drive, and took the ball mostly out of a direct-snap situation.
His elusiveness left a lot of Pekin defenders in their tracks, and he added a pair of second-quarter touchdown runs for the Bears.
While Beck dominated on the offensive side of the ball, the Bears’ defense was up to the task as well. Pekin managed just 34 yards in the first half and 152 for the game, as its misdirection run game was shut down.
“We just couldn’t make the play we needed to make,” Blakely said. “But we’ve also got to play smarter, and I thought we did that in the second half.”
Michael Jones did plenty of the heavy lifting in the run game for the Panthers (2-5, 1-2) in the second half, especially after 1,000-yard rusher Dayne Eckley left the game in the middle of the Panthers’ first series of the second half with an apparent arm injury.
Jones finished with 93 yards and both touchdowns for Pekin. He put the Panthers on the scoreboard on a 6-yard run on fourth down, then the Panthers recovered a fumble on a squibbed kick. But BGM’s defense held and forced a punt, and the Panthers didn’t threaten again despite a 40-yard touchdown run by Jones to cap the scoring with eight minutes left.
“Michael has come a long way. He was kind of a little Beck for us out there tonight,” Blakely said. “He was a real spark plug for us, and he and Dayne are two different types of backs. We need to have Dayne back because he’s obviously a big part of what we do.”
The Panthers were coming off a crushing loss to Highland last week in which a goal-line stop was overturned and ruled a touchdown with no time left on the clock. As difficult as that loss was, Blakely said his team needed to move forward.
“As a staff we had to get past it,” he said. “I liked that our kids kept fighting. That’s the Pekin way. There was some excitement late in the game.
“The one thing our team needs to do is start getting ready to play on Monday, not Wednesday,” Blakely said. “That’s just youth.”
Pekin will likely need a miracle to get into the postseason. A district title is a long shot at best, and the Panthers’ RPI isn’t strong enough for an at-large bid.
“We have two games to get better, and we want to send our seniors out on a high note,” Blakely said. “We need to get those guys prepared for the next step in their journey.”
Pekin hosts Belle Plaine next week.