Larkin made sure this year's Town Jug game against rival Elgin wasn't a nail biter.
In the 2011 meeting, Larkin's 1-point victory wasn't decided until 12 seconds remained. However, the Royals took all the suspense out of Friday's contest by striking for 2 touchdowns in the first 4:09 of the game and scoring 4 touchdowns in the first half overall en route to a 40-12 Upstate Eight River victory at 50-year-old Memorial Field.
The victory upped Larkin's lead in the series to 32-19 and kept the Town Jug on the city's west side for the second straight year.
"We were ready," said Larkin senior running back Mo Jackson, who carried the ball 14 times for a game-best 106 yards and 3 touchdowns. "Just the atmosphere, playing against friends and pee-wee players you grew up with. It's a good night."
Larkin (2-1, 1-0) set the tone on its first offensive play after Elgin turned the ball over on downs near midfield. Quarterback Kemmerin Blalark spotted speedy running back Damion Clemons streaking down the right sideline on an out-and-up pattern. Blalark hit his fellow junior in stride for a 53-yard touchdown pass and the early lead.
"I saw the safety kind of drifting in and KB just aired it out," Clemons said. "I just had to go get it."
Blalark completed 4 of the 6 passes he attempted for 85 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it was the Larkin running game that did most of the damage.
The Royals rushed for 238 yards, led by Jackson. However, Clemons gained another 66 yards on 7 attempts and fullback Mario Randazzo added 61 yards on 8 totes. Both Jackson and Clemons deferred the credit to offensive linemen Alex Schabert, Adam Hamiel, Quentyn Jackson, Will Rodriguez and David Duda. All but Duda pulled double duty on the defensive line throughout.
"If we want to compete the rest of the way out here, we have to figure out some kind of ways to get these guys a break," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. "But we took care of business like I thought we would."
Larkin moved to a 13-0 lead with 8:51 left in the first quarter. After getting close to blocking a punt in each of their first two outings, the Royals broke through when junior Dante Bonds bolted through the Elgin line and blocked Ryan Sitter's punt. Bonds picked up the loose ball and scampered 20 yards for a touchdown.
Elgin responded with a 1-yard plunge by junior Daniel Page, which was set up by a 54-yard pass from Sitter to senior receiver Joe DeBrocke.
But Larkin took control of the game with 2 more scores before halftime. Kemmerin Blalark connected with Anthony Blalark for a 10-yard scoring strike that capped a 68-yard drive, keyed by Jackson's 35-yard run. Jackson then lifted the Royals to a 25-6 advantage with a 3-yard run with 6:07 left in the first half. That drive was highlighted by Damion Clemons' 30-yard, tackle-breaking run.
Larkin added another touchdown on its first drive of the third quarter. Randazzo bursts of 28 and 14 yards set up Jackson's 4-yard score, giving the Royals a 33-6 advantage.
Elgin (0-3, 0-1) responded with its best drive of the season, 80 yard in 9 plays. Elgin junior Jaylen Clemons, who rushed for 102 yards on 14 carries, fueled that drive with first-down runs of 12, 17 and 15 yards.
"I think we were positive on every play," Sitter said of the march. "I think we all got confidence from that drive. In the locker room we were talking (at halftime) about the fact we were losing, but this was a major improvement from the past couple weeks. We're sad now because we lost the Jug game, our seniors lost to Larkin. But we all feel like we took a step forward."
Sitter scored on an 18-yard run with 4:18 left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 33-12, but the Royals answered with a 52-yard, 8-play drive and Jackson's third touchdown of the game to close the scoring.
Larkin outgained Elgin only 343 yards to 329, but the Maroons had trouble gaining enough offensive rhythm to sustain most drives.
"It's the inconsistencies, the drive killers that pop up every once in a while," Elgin coach Dave Bierman said. "It's about more repetitions, more practice, everybody being at practice and all that."
The victory is Larkin's second in a row after allowing 60 points in a season-opening loss to McHenry. The Royals have since yielded 19 points in 2 games.
"It's satisfying," Scianna said of retaining the Town Jug, "but our kids looked like we won the Super Bowl and that's not what it's all about. We haven't even made the playoffs. We have to get back to our goal right away."