St. Charles East falls short at Edwardsville
EDWARDSVILLE -- Bryce Farquhar looked over at his team, many of whom were crying or hugging or both.
"We've got one kid (Dylan Barrett) going to Wisconsin, but besides that, there's not like a ton of Division I kids," the St. Charles East football coach said. "They come out and execute well. But, tonight was probably our worst performance of the year score-wise, but that doesn't tarnish what they've done this year."
His Saints traveled to Edwardsville's District 7 Sports Complex for a Class 8A first-round playoff game Friday night and fell in an early 20-point hole they couldn't recover from in a 44-17 loss to the host Tigers.
St. Charles East finished the season 7-3 after a third straight first-round loss.
"We made too many mistakes overall to be able to hang with a team as good as Edwardsville," Farquhar said. "The big plays tonight really killed us. I thought their ability to create the big plays off their running game was huge. We just weren't able to come up with the big plays when we needed them."
Edwardsville (8-2) advances to play at Minooka (10-0) in next week's second round. The Tigers got four rushing touchdowns from junior running back Justin Johnson Jr., including three straight in building a 20-0 first quarter lead.
"It was very exciting and very intense," Johnson said. "We came out and punched them in the mouth and had to keep that intensity. We weren't planning on ending the season tonight."
St. Charles East finally dented the scoreboard when Cole Conn scored a rushing TD from one yard out to cut it to 20-7 after one quarter, but Edwardsville quickly responded just over a minute later as Ryan Hampton scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to give the Tigers a 20-point lead again.
The Saints rattled off 10 straight points by scoring on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Nathan Hayes hit Nathan Hull on a 47-yard scoring pass just four minutes in and then Jackson Erminio booted a 37-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 27-17 with 1:30 left before halftime.
But, Mason Ahlers had a 69-yard rushing TD with 48.3 seconds left to give the Tigers a 34-17 advantage at the intermission.
The Saints compiled an impressive series to open the second half, but misfired on a field goal, while the Tigers booted one through at the other end four minutes later to make it 37-17.
Johnson notched his fourth TD of the night with 3:01 left in the third quarter to close the scoring.