PIASA — Gavin Day stuck his leg into the grass after taking the handoff and looked up.
It was only one cut, but his offensive line provided him an opening that a giant, fire-breathing statue could have waltzed through.
"I knew I had to score," Day said.
The Piasa Southwestern junior running back sprinted untouched for a game-sealing touchdown as Piasa Southwestern defeated Vandalia 21-7 in a South Central Conference football game Friday at Southwestern High School.
"It's a huge win, especially against that team," Piasa Southwestern junior Blake Funk said.
Piasa Southwestern (3-0) picked up its first win against Vandalia since a 20-14 victory in 2017.
The Piasa Birds are off to their first 3-0 start since 2002.
"The guys are playing together and all of them have a common goal," Piasa Southwestern coach Pat Keith said. "They're doing their job when it's their turn to do the job. It's great."
Day led the Birds with 135 yards on 18 carries, while Funk piled up 79 yards on 15 carries.
Southwestern compiled 269 yards on the ground.
"Our linemen did a great job up front today," Day said. "They were just going out there and doing their thing. I kept telling them good blocks on the sidelines."
Day and Funk provided a thunder and lightning combination out of the backfield, and sophomore quarterback Sam Wolff provided some more punch to an already punishing running attack.
"It's all about confidence and they're buying into what we're doing and that helps," Keith said. "We have some good seniors that anchor that line and we're going to do our best to run the ball."
Funk and Day fed off each other as each took their turn beating on the Vandalia line for four quarters.
"We just made too many mistakes and put our defense up against the wall too many times in the first half," Vandalia coach Jason Clay said. "The defense stopped them every time, but after a while, you start getting tired and they definitely pounded on us. Two- and three-yard runs were turning into big runs and just wore us down."
Vandalia cut into Southwestern's lead early in the fourth quarter when sophomore running back Eric McKinney scored on a 2-yard run.
But Day's 60-yard touchdown sprint all but sealed the game for the Piasa Birds.
Despite three turnovers, Keith was pleased with how his team responded as well as the defense limiting the defending conference champs to just 147 yards of offense and turning the Vandals over four times.
"That's what I'm proud of the kids for," Keith said. "Some things didn't go our way, but we were able to execute and finish."