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LISLE — It wasn't a situation that a Streator football team has been in for a while, but you wouldn't have known that watching the second half, or furthermore the last Bulldogs drive of Friday night's Interstate Eight Conference crossover game against Lisle.
Streator, at 4-4, needed a victory to become playoff eligible for the first team since 2008, but trailed the 3-5 Lions by a single point with 4 minutes, 38 seconds remaining after the hosts took the lead with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
However, the resilient Bulldogs were able to come up with the winning score on sophomore running back Tray Fisher's 16-yard run — part of his 31-carry, 250-yard, three-TD explosion — with just over a minute to play to earn their fifth win of the season with a thrilling 36-29 victory here at The Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex.
The decision also give SHS its first three-game winning streak since 2008.
"We been pushing towards this moment the entire season and offseason. We asked ourselves the question "Why not us?" This is why," said Streator senior quarterback John Benckendorf, who threw for 136 yards and scored a pair of rushing TDs. "We wanted to do this for our town. This is the best feeling ever.
"Coach (Brian) Hassett has brought the never say die, never give up attitude ever since he's been here. You can see the change he has brought to this program. He works hard, so in turn we want to work hard for him."
Streator, which at 41 based on results available as of press time Friday night appears to have enough playoff points (opponents wins) to claim an at-large playoff spot, will now wait to hear its name called during the NBC Sports Chicago Plus IHSA Pairing Show that begins at 8 p.m. tonight.
"We are in year three and needed three wins to get here, but to honest with you I expected to be here," said the Gatorade-drenched third-year SHS head coach Hassett. "The second year of me being in the school building has made a difference, and I thank the administration for that and give me this opportunity.
"It was a total team effort tonight, but Tray Fisher was great tonight. Our seniors really stepped things up in the second half. I'm so proud of this team and my coaching staff. Its all about everybody."
Lisle scored on the games opening possession, finishing an 11-play, 77-yard drive with a 18-yard run from Logan Metoyer, but the kick failed. Streator countered with a eight-play, 60-yard drive, ending on a six-yard TD dash by Fisher, Alonso Flores adding the first of four PAT kicks.
The Lions answered with Metoyer's second score, this one from four yards away, with Ben Laning's 2-point run giving Lisle a 14-7 lead. The Bulldogs answered, tying things up at the 5:11 mark of the second period on a Benckendorf five-yard run.
However, the Lions took a 21-14 lead into halftime on a Aidan Lombardo 28-yard scoring pass to Cameron Stitt.
"At the half we made some changes and talked to John," said Hassett. "I told him, 'You just have to lead this team the way you have been.' He did that and more."
Fisher brought the nice Streator fan section to its feet with a 60-yard sprint to the endzone on the very first play of the second half, evening the score at 21. After the Bulldogs defense stopped Lisle on a 4th-and-3 at the Streator 7-yard line, the offense put together a 13-play, 93-yard drive, capped when Benckendorf took it in from seven yards out.
After Lisle forced a SHS punt, they regained the advantage 29-28 on a Lanning four-yard TD run and two-point dash.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Maurice Cunningham set up the Bulldogs at the Lisle 48 after a 35-yard return. Four runs from Fisher and another from Cunningham had the ball at the Lisle 16 when Fisher took a handoff to the right, looked to be stopped in his tracks, but reversed field to the left. He shook off two defenders before finding paydirt.
"I just had to keep pushing," said Fisher. "I just knew the team needed me in that moment. I knew I couldn't go down, couldn't mess up, I just had to make a play.
"This means so much to me. I didn't play my freshman year, so this was like a comeback season for me. To be a starter as a sophomore on varsity and to help and is team have a chance at the playoffs, it's just unbelievable."
At The Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex
Streator 36, Lisle 29
Streator (5-4) 7  7  14  8  — 36
Lisle (4-4) 14  7  0  8 — 29
Scoring summary
First quarter
L — Metoyer 18 run (kick failed), 7:05, 0-6.
S — Fisher 6 run (Flores kick), 3:59, 7-6.
L — Metoyer 4 run (Laning run), :30, 7-14.
Second quarter
S — Benckendorf 5 run (Flores kick), 5:11, 14-14.
L — Stitt 28 pass from Lombardo (Bandzoumouna kick), 3:39, 14-21.
Third quarter
S — Fisher 60 run (Flores kick), 11:42, 21-21.
S — Benckendorf 7 run (Flores kick), 1:02, 28-21.
Fourth quarter
L — Laning 4 run (Laning run), 4:38, 28-29.
S — Fisher 16 run (Benckendorf run), 1:25, 36-29.
Team statistics
First downs 22  25
Rushes-Yards 41-295 54-338
Passing yards 136  91
Total offense 431  429
Comp-Att-Int. 8-13-1  4-8-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0  3-1
Penalties-Yards 7-65  4-25
Punts-Avg. 3-33.0  1-33.0
Time of possession  23:30  24:30
Individual statistics
RUSHING:  Streator — Fisher 31-250, Benckendorf 3-25, Cunningham 4-12, McStoots 2-7, Webb 1-1; Lisle — Metoyer 15-115, Laning 18-93, Hunter 13-81, Carter 4-72, Lombardo 4-(-23).
PASSING (C-A-TD-INT-YD): Streator — Benckendorf 8-13-0-1-136; Lisle — Lombardo 4-8-1-0-91.
RECEIVING: Streator — McStoots 4-49, Colter 1-34, Webb 1-27, Cunningham 1-20, Fisher 1-6; Lisle — Stitt 3-71, Martich 1-20.

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