All it takes sometimes is one play.
One big play, in particular.
The St. Joseph-Ogden High School football team turned such a moment into a 19-0 homecoming win against Pontiac this past Friday night in Illini Prairie Conference action.
Relying on its stout defense once again — the 4-1 Spartans have only allowed 43 points so far this season heading into this Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff at Prairie Central (3-2) — junior Crayton Burnett, junior Brady Buss and senior Payton Cain all delivered signature plays in SJO’s most recent win.
Burnett connected with Buss on a 62-yard touchdown play with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter to stake SJO to an early 7-0 lead. The Spartans increased their advantage to 13-0 in the second quarter when Cain returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown, exciting the home crowd in St. Joseph.
The SJO defense held tight throughout the game, with Pontiac (1-4) fumbling the ball five times and the Spartans recovering four fumbles. Senior Jarrett Stevenson plunged across the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give the Spartans a 19-0 lead that stood up the rest of the game.
Burnett finished 7 of 18 for 120 passing yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, completing passes to seven different receivers. Buss (62 yards), senior Jaden Miller (26 yards), senior Sam Wesley (15 yards), freshman Ty Pence (14 yards), senior Chance Izard (4 yards) and senior Brayden Weaver (1 yard) all hauled in a pass from Burnett. Stevenson rushed for a team-high 52 yards on 16 carries to pace the SJO ground game.
If SJO pulls off a win at Prairie Central, the Spartans are eligible for the playoffs with five victories. Six wins automatically earn a team a playoff berth, and the earliest SJO could hit that mark is on Oct. 11 when it hosts Chillicothe IVC (5-0).