GILMAN -- Even though his team led 22-0 at halftime against Iroquois West, Paxton-Buckley-Loda head coach Josh Pritchard was not satisfied with his team's first-half performance.
"I challenged our kids at halftime. I thought that was our worst half of football. I don't care what the score said," Pritchard said. "The first half was really bad. We have to win every half. We challenged our kids to get to that running clock."
The Panthers did just that as they scored 22 unanswered points in the third quarter en route to a 50-0 victory.
"We want to keep them out of the end zone and try to bury somebody," Pritchard said. "A 50-0 win's kind of nice, and any conference win's a good win, but we've got a lot of work to get to, and I think our kids are ready to do that. I'm looking forward to seeing what our film's going to tell our kids. Our kids know it wasn't our best game, but they're ready to work. We've got hard-working kids, and I'm ready to get going with them."
It was the second straight win for PBL as it heads into week four.
"It does feel good to have that turnaround. It's always good to beat a team," PBL senior quarterback Gunner Belt said. "A team's skill level doesn't matter -- it's really hard to put a shutout on the board. That's something we'll definitely celebrate, and then Monday starts week four."
The second half started with Jayden Ware forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff that was recovered by Ben Busby on Iroquois West's 47-yard line.
After Drake Schrodt gained 11 yards on a screen pass and a 3-yard run by Hunter Anderson, a 33-yard pass connection from Gunner Belt to Schrodt extended PBL's lead to 30-0 with 11:06 remaining in the third quarter. Belt ran the ball into the end zone for a two-point conversion.
"We talked about forcing a turnover early in the second half, and it's great when it happens on the kickoff," Pritchard said.
The Raiders (0-3, 0-1 Sangamon Valley Conference) drove to to the red zone on their ensuing possession, but on third-and-goal from the 14-yard line, Jarred Gronsky returned an interception 105 yards to the end zone with 7:55 remaining in the quarter to extend the Panthers' (2-1, 1-0) lead to 36-0.
On the third play of Iroquois West's drive, Eric Netzband caught a pass for 33 yards. Three plays later, Dane Thorne caught a third-and-5 pass to move the ball to the 10-yard line.
A tackle for loss of yards by Alex Rueck and an incomplete pass preceded Gronsky's pick-six.
"We don't want them driving, but that (pick-six) kind of helped us out," Pritchard said.
Following a fumble recovery by Dalton Busboom on Iroquois West's 28-yard line, Belt found Gronsky for a 28-yard touchdown reception, after which Alex Plott ran for a two-point conversion. It was Belt's fourth touchdown as he also rushed for two touchdowns in the first half.
"We came out a little slow in the first half and didn't put up as many points as we wanted," Belt said. "In the second half, everybody was working -- all 11 guys on our side of the football. Our linemen, linebackers on defense, running backs running the ball hard, receivers doing crisp routes to open up the passing game. It was much better all around in the second half."
On PBL's game-opening 50-yard drive, Drake Schrodt ran down the left sideline for a 35-yard gain on fourth-and-4 to set up a first-and-goal on the 9-yard line.
After an 8-yard run by Anderson, Schrodt scored on a 1-yard run with 8:44 left in the first quarter. Anderson ran for the two-point conversion.
Gronsky returned the opening kickoff to the 50-yard line. Schrodt ran for no gain on the first play from scrimmage before Iroquois West's Conner Taylor tackled Belt for a loss of eight yards after a low snap.
Gronsky caught a screen pass for 14 yards before Schrodt's big run.
On the Raiders' opening possession, two runs by Thorne set up a third-and-2, on which Tibaldo Alvarez ran for a first down to IW's 47-yard line.
Thorne was tackled by Rueck for a 3-yard gain before IW committed a false-start penalty. Drew Diesburg tackled Thorne on second-and-12.
On third-and-8, Alvarez threw an incomplete pass. On the next play, Auston Miller caught a pass, but was short of the first-down marker, forcing the Raiders to turn the ball over on downs.
The Panthers went three-and-out on their next possession.
Schrodt was tackled by Carson Maisonneuve for a loss of two yards on first down from PBL's own 40-yard line before Diesburg caught a screen pass for five yards. On third-and-7, Belt overthrew Schrodt, forcing the Panthers to punt for the only time during the first 2 1/2 quarters.
"We didn't punt very much. We thought we could move the football," Pritchard said. "The problem is when they're going on seven- or eight-minute drives and we can't get (our defense) off the field, that doesn't help us. We've got to sharpen up our defense because we're going to see a pretty tough opponent. We have some things we're going to work on. Hopefully, we can keep getting better on offense and score every time we've got the football."
After Clayton Robidoux tackled Miller for no gain on first down from IW's own 30-yard line, Netzband caught a pass for a first down, moving the ball to the Raiders' own 48-yard line. A 5-yard run by Thorne and two rushed by Miller move the ball to PBL's 44-yard line.
Miller trotted for another first down to the 31-yard line, but the Raiders were then called for a false start. A 5-yard run and an incomplete pass set up a third-and-10, on which Thorne caught a pass for five yards.
Alvarez then threw an incomplete pass on the first play of the second quarter, turning the ball over on downs on the PBL 26-yard line.
The Panthers' ensuing drive covered 74 yards in 10 plays.
After Anderson ran for seven yards, a first-down run by Schrodt and a Belt run for four yards, Colton Coy battled Iroquois West's Tibaldo Alvarez for a pass 1-on-1, a battle that Coy won en route to a 30-yard gain that put PBL near the red zone.
On the next play, PBL was called for a block-in-the-back penalty, Anderson ran for eight yards before Gronsky dropped a pass in the end zone on second-and-12. Hunter Anderson then caught a screen pass on third-and-12 to put the ball on the 8-yard line.
Following a 4-yard run by Schrodt on first-and-goal, Belt then ran for a 4-yard touchdown on second-and-goal to extend PBL's lead to 14-0 with 7:36 left in the second quarter.
Netzband caught a pass for nine yards on Iroquois West's ensuing possession, Alvarez gained a first down on a quarterback keeper, moving the ball to IW's own 48-yard line.
Miller ran for no gain on first down before Alvarez threw an incomplete pass as he was hit by Coy. Gavin Coplea broke up another passing attempt on third-and-10, forcing the Raiders to punt.
"The defense was night and day," Belt said. "They were able to do whatever they wanted from 20-yard line to 20-yard line. Our defense really found a way to get it done."
Belt would then scamper for a 25-yard score with 1:41 remaining in the second quarter to conclude a 12-play, 87-yard drive. Gronsky ran for a two-point conversion afterwards.
The Panthers were called for a penalty that moved the ball back to their 8-yard line before Belt ran for 10 yards. Iroquois West was called for an encroachment penalty for a PBL first down.
Belt then ran for nine yards before Thorne and Devin Kuchel tackled Anderson for a loss of one yard. Anderson then ran for a first down to PBL's own 34-yard line.
Gronsky ran for another first down two plays later. After Zac Jayne ran for eight yards and Anderson ran for a first down to Iroquois West's 30-yard line.
Belt's touchdown run followed an encroachment penalty by the Raiders.
After Thorne caught a pass for four yards on the first play of IW's ensuing possession, PBL was called for pass interference on second-and-6, moving the ball to the Raiders' own 45-yard line.
Gronsky broke up a pass attempt on first down before Netzband caught a pass on second down to move the ball to PBL's 30-yard line.
An incomplete pass, a 5-yard reception by Netzband and a spiked ball on third-and-5 was followed by an errant snap on a 45-yard field-goal attempt by Damian Melgoza on the final play of the first half.
Following Gronsky's third-quarter touchdown reception, Trystyn Schacht ran for a first down for IW, moviing the ball to the Raiders' 34-yard line before an errant snap moved the ball back five yards.
On second-and-15, Netzband caught a pass to move the ball to PBL's 28-yard line. A run for no gain and a 3-yard reception was followed by an interception by Zac Jayne that gave the Panthers possession on their own 4-yard line.
"That's always good when you can put your backups in there and they're making plays," Pritchard said. "We want everybody to play in the game. We feel like we have playmakers on the field, but we've got to get stops earlier instead of letting them drive up and down the field. We've got lots of things to work on."
Backup quarterback Mason Bruns ran for a first down on the first play of PBL's ensuing possession. Alex Plott ran for four yards on second-and-5, but Jayne ran for no gain on third down and PBL was called for a false start on fourth-and-1, forcing the Panthers to punt.
The Raiders and Panthers traded punts before PBL recovered a muffed punt on IW's 37-yard line.
Two plays later, Charlie Pound caught a pass for five yards. The Raiders were then called for an encroachment penalty on third down, giving PBL an automatic first down.
Three plays later, Bruns found Pound for a 25-yard touchdown with 1:10 left in the game.
"Everybody played well -- backups, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers. It was just an all-around good game," Belt said.
PBL 50, Iroquois West 0
PBL 8 14 22 6 -- 50
IW 0 0 0 0 -- 0
PBL -- Schrodt 1 run (Anderson run)
PBL -- Belt 4 run (conversion failed)
PBL -- Belt 25 run (Gronsky run)
PBL -- Schrodt 33 pass from Belt (Belt run)
PBL -- Gronsky 105 interception return (conversion failed)
PBL -- Gronsky 28 pass from Belt (Plott run)
PBL -- Pound 25 pass from Bruns (conversion failed)