FULTON - Before Fulton could realize it Friday night against Bureau Valley, the Steamers were caught in the eye of two different storms at the same time.
Playing in a rain storm that featured a steady downpour that transitioned into a wind-blown light rain, the Bureau Valley Storm ran through, around and over Fulton in its Big Rivers Conference showdown.
Bureau Valley amassed 442 yards on the ground and had eight running backs rush for positive yardage as it rolled through the mud and the steam for an easy 44-6 road win.
"We said before the game before we came out the locker room, â€˜Guys, this is our type of weather and we're going to find out who the more physical football team is tonight,' " Bureau Valley coach Jeff Ohlson said. "And this is the type of weather you find that out. I thought the kids responded and really played a physical ballgame up front and even in the defensive backfield."
With the victory, the Storm improved to 5-1 on the season and in the Big Rivers, reaching the minimum win total for its eighth playoff appearance in the last nine years.
The victory also sets the stage for next week's home showdown with Class 2A's No. 2-ranked squad, Morrison, who beat Amboy-LaMoille, Class 2A's No. 4-ranked squad, on Friday 35-6.
"We've got to take care of business," Ohlson said of Morrison. "...We had an opportunity when we played Amboy and we didn't capitalize. We've got to take advantage of opportunities and we've got another opportunity. If we play well and we're successful we've got a shot to possibly put ourselves right back in the driver's seat (of the Big Rivers)."
For the second straight week, the Storm set the tone early as they scored on their first two possessions. Bureau Valley rumbled 65 yards on six plays in just 2 minutes, 38 seconds for its opening score. Michael Weidner's 31-yard run and 20-yard run set up his 3-yard thunder to the end zone that gave Bureau Valley a 6-0 lead.
After holding Fulton on fourth down and receiving possession on downs, the Storm smashed their way 35 yards in less than three minutes. A 15-yard run by Weidner set the stage for Ryan Hix's 14-yard touchdown scamper to give Bureau Valley a 12-0 lead with 4:30 left in the first quarter.
"Basically, since halftime of the Amboy game (in Week 3) we've learned something," Ohlson said. "We're going to be more physical and we've got to execute, and tonight I thought we were physical and we executed. Those two quick scores show that. We got the ball, we executed and we got the ball in the end zone."
Storm quarterback John King found the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown run to end the quarter as Bureau Valley led 18-0 after the first quarter.
But the Storm were far from done on the ground.
Weidner added two more scores in the second quarter - a 56-yard run and a 54-yard dash - to push the halftime lead to 31-0.
In all, the senior fullback ran for 212 yards and three scores in the game, including 202 yards in the first half.
"Michael is a great player," Ohlson said. "I said this last week: He's put in a lot of time and a lot effort to make himself into a great player. He learns a little bit more about running the football every game, and it's nice to have a kid back there that you can do that with."
Weidner was just the leader of the Storm rushing attack, not the only horse. Hix finished with 92 yards and two scores, while Bradley Sanden broke for a 61-yard touchdown run in the second half and ended with 84 yards on only five carries.
"Up front we're starting to get people in some spots where they need to go," Ohlson said. "We made some adjustments with some personnel, and we're starting to take off, it looks like, up front."
King never attempted a pass as Bureau Valley's 442 yards of total offense were all on the ground, but Ohlson admitted after the game the team did call one unsuccessful pass play for King.
"We talked about it, but we dropped it the only time we called one," Ohlson said. "John got all nervous on us. But (the success on the ground) goes to credit the kids up front on the offensive line and even our backs that blocked. To be physical and get us holes to run on a night like this is pretty special."
n Notes: The Storm defense was dominant against the run, holding the Steamers to negative-27 yards of rushing on 17 attempts. ...Fulton quarterback Tyler Renkes threw for 154 yards and completed at least one pass to eight different receivers. ...The Bureau Valley sophomores allowed 14 first-half points to Fulton and fell 14-0.
Jared Bell can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 139, or at email@example.com.