By Sam Graf
BETHALTO – The Civic Memorial Eagles – a one-win, football team, this season – came out, last Friday night, and tried to power the ball at the heart of the Mascoutah defense. It didn’t work.
In fact, the stingy Indian defense stood up to the attack and held the Eagles to less than four yards-per-carry on 38 attempts and allowed just 60 passing yards in a 28-0 Mississippi Valley Conference victory at Bethalto.
It was Mascoutah which provided the night’s fireworks. Ronald Clay rushed 24 times for 94 yards, including his nine-yard, game-winning touchdown just 3:12 into the contest.
At 4:21 of the second period, Treshun Buckingham took a direct snap and finished off a 61-yard touchdown sprint through the middle of the CM defense to make it, 13-0.
“We talked about it in the locker room before the game; we wanted to get on them – right out of the chute,” Mascoutah Coach Josh Lee said. “CM played hard and tough and tried to pound it at us. They did some of that, but we kept them out of the end zone.
“Yeah, we put that in this week (Buckingham taking a direct snap and running the ball). We just wanted to come out one series and get a spark going. We are trying to get the ball in his hands more. You can see when we get the ball in his hands – good things happen. Sure enough, he popped a long one out of there.”
Lee praised the defense in shutting down CM’s passing attack.
“Our corners, Jaelyn Curry and Kyle Little, did a nice job out there because they are kind of on an island. We had to sell out against the run game, so they did a good job of not giving up big plays.”
Lee certainly wanted the shutout: “It is a big deal. This conference is no-joke; keeping them out of the end zone – we’re pretty excited about it.”
Near the end of the third period, Buckingham struck again – this time, the recipient of a Devon Ross 44-yard touchdown strike. Buckingham hauled in four receptions for 77 yards, and Ross completed three-of-seven for 70 yards.
In the final 1:50 Albert Williams blasted into the end zone from seven yards out to ice the 28-point win. Kicker Cole Junker went four-for-four on extra points.
“Albert is such a team guy – such a hard-working, great kid. He’s a good athlete and the guys were so pumped when he was able to put the ball into the end zone.”
After CM went three-and-out to start the game, Mascoutah went 61 yards in three plays for the first score. Clay carried all three times, ripping off big chunks before his nine-yard touchdown plunge.
Penalties and fumbles kept the Indians from scoring again until late in the second quarter. With a second-and-16 play from the Mascoutah 13 yard line, Malik Green rambled 23 yards just before Buckingham’s aforementioned 61-yard touchdown.
Moments before halftime after Jacob Averett had recovered a fumble at the CM 39, Jeff Getchell completed a 15-yard pass to Green, and Junker’s subsequent 32-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
Near the end of the third quarter, Clay had five-straight carries to get the ball to the CM 44, which set up Ross’s scoring strike to Buckingham with 2:36 remaining.
Early in the fourth period, the Indians threatened to score, moving the ball from their 40 to the CM one, but the Eagles’ defense stuffed four-straight runs before the goal line. In that drive Ross came up with a 22-yard scamper, putting the ball on the CM 13, and Clay knifed to the one.
Just before Williams’ touchdown run with 1:50 left, CM’s long-snapper lofted the snap over the punter’s head that the Indians’ downed on the CM 12. Two plays later, Williams banged in from the eight.
With the victory, the Indians improve to 3-4, overall; 2-2 in the MVC. But it will get tough, this Friday, October 13, as Mascoutah hosts 7-0 Highland, which has routinely hammered its MVC foes.
“We are going to get rested up before the Highland game; we kept several players out of this one, so next week, we can be as close to one hundred percent as we can be. We are going to give it all we got. Highland is a very explosive team.”