QUINCY -- Everything the Quincy Notre Dame football coaching staff did throughout the week adequately prepared the Raiders to face the toughest team on their schedule.
Still, there was one thing lacking.
The coaches couldn't emulate state-ranked Peoria Central's relentless speed and agility on defense.
"They send it all every play," QND quarterback Ike Wiley said. "They send everyone."
It limited everything the Raiders tried to do. Wiley lost yardage on four plays, was stuffed for no gain on two other scrambles and was hit more times than he could count during a 54-15 loss Friday night at Advance Physical Therapy Field.
The Lions' juggernaut offense, which was averaging a State-leading 76 points per game, had been the focus of most pregame chatter. The Raiders, ranked 10th in Class 3A, discovered it is Peoria Central's defense that makes it so dominant.
"We knew they were going to be a very aggressive team in all three phases, but especially on defense," QND coach Jack Cornell said. "We had to get hat on a hat as best we could and Ike had to get rid of the ball.
"They would give us some things here and there and we would take advantage of it, but in the end, they just had too much firepower."
It didn't take long for the first explosion.
Peoria Central, ranked eighth in Class 5A, won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kick, but QND had another thing in mind. The Raiders opted to attempt an onside kick that nearly worked if not for carrying a yard or so out of bounds.
"Starting fast in this game was key for us and we tried to," Cornell said. "We wanted to be aggressive. We had nothing to lose."
The problem was it have the Lions great field position, and they took advantage. Dionsyius Hogan got behind the Raiders' secondary and turned a pass from senior quarterback Gabe Hernandez into a 55-yard touchdown on the first play.
"We were not surprised by the quick score because they're so capable of that and our coaches did a job preparing our guys for that," Cornell said. "So it was a kind of an I-told-you-so thing, and we had to get back after it."
The Raiders responded quite well. An eight-play, 48-yard drive followed with Jack Marth powering into the end zone on a 2-yard scoring run to make it 8-7 just 3 1/2 minutes into the game.
"They came out fighting and we came out fighting," QND senior tight end Zac Becker said. "I told the whole offense this is the time we get to come back and do something and make a name for ourselves. That was the most important drive for us."
The problem was the Raiders couldn't sustain every drive.
A three-and-out followed. A sack on fourth down ended the next drive. And an incompletion on fourth and 19 from the Lions' 28-yard line gave the ball back to Peoria Central with 1:09 remaining in the first half.
It took just five plays for the Lions to score as Hernandez connected with Izaiah Haslett on a 20-yard strike with nine seconds remaining in the half for a 32-7 lead.
"They were relentless," Wiley said. "They stepped on it and stayed on it."
The Lions piled up 526 yards, getting 90 yards rushing on seven carries from Javier Guyton and 264 passing from Hernandez, who completed 17 of 25 passes. He completed his first six passes and 10 of his first 11 attempts.
Haslett caught five passes for 79 yards, while Hogan grabbed three passes for 86 yards.
The Raiders were limited to 218 total yards with Wiley completing 8 of 20 passes for 102 yards and one interception. Lake Bergman rushed for 51 yards on 12 carries as the Raiders managed 2.9 yards per carry and 3.6 yards per play.
"Their speed impacted everything," Becker said. "Our guys were blocking, but they had a lot more guys rushing at us."
Peoria Central 54, Quincy Notre Dame 15
25 First downs 16
23-182 Rushes-yards 39-116
344 Passing yards 102
526 Total yards 218
20-30-1 Comp-Att-Int 8-21-1
14-90 Penalties-yards 4-25
1-0 Fumbles-lost 1-0
Peoria Central 16 16 8 14--54
QND 7 0 0 8--15
PC--Dionsyius Hogan 55 pass from Gabe Hernandez (Chris Williams pass from Hernandez), 11:52
Q--Jack Marth 2 run (Elliott Beroiza kick), 8:30
PC--Tiger Netters 10 pass from Hernandez (Davion Allen run), 6:08
PC--Kaevion Mack 4 pass from Hernandez (Williams pass from Hernandez), 5:41
PC--Izaiah Haslett 20 pass from Hernandez (Hogan pass from Hernandez), :09
PC--Hogan 29 pass from Hernandez (Javier Guyton run), 1:09
PC--Williams 41 pass from Darius Beckum (run failed), 8:39
Q--Lake Bergman 4 run (Marth pass from Calvin Lavery), 3:04
PC--NeSha Robertson 15 pass from Beckum (Rayshun Buckner pass from Beckum), 1:16
RUSHING--Peoria Central, Guyton 7-90, Beckum 8-56, Hernandez 2-16, Allen 4-8, Aziah Fisher 1-8, Eddie Clark 1-4. QND, Bergman 12-51, Johnny Ohnemus 7-41, Marth 2-17, Elliott Maas 2-16, Ryan Cafun 4-6, Ike Wiley 11-(minus 5), Ben Kasparie 1-(minus 10).
PASSING--Peoria Central, Hernandez 17-25-264-1, Beckum 3-5-75-0. QND, Wiley 8-21-102-1, Kasparie 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING--Peoria Central, Haslett 5-79, mack 5-28, Hogan 3-86, Williams 2-84, Netters 2-16, Fisher 1-19, Eddie Clark 1-17, Robertson 1-15. QND, Grant Hyer 3-51, Jack Gilliland 2-21, Zac Becker 1-17, Josh Sheffield 1-14, Kasparie 1-(minus 1).