EAST ST. LOUIS — Making the first start of his career, East St. Louis senior quarterback Temarcus Jones bent but didn't break Friday against perennial Missouri power (Kansas City) Rockhurst.
Jones threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Gregory Taylor with under five minutes remaining as the Flyers rallied for a 19-14 win at Clyde Jordan Stadium.
Jones, who finished the game 12 of 22 for 155 yards and two touchdowns, marched the Flyers 85 yards in just over two minutes for the winning score, which was aided by a 45-yard completion to freshman Jeff Thomas.
Four plays later, Jones rolled to his right and threw across the field to Taylor, who caught the ball in the back of the end zone for the winning score.
The touchdown pass was vindication for Jones, who had a pass interception returned for a touchdown in the third quarter and also lost a fumble.
"Temarcus made some mistakes and he's still got a lot of work ahead and a lot to learn. But you know what? When he had to step up and make the plays with the game on the line, he did. That shows me something right there,'' Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said. "As a football team, we didn't make a lot of mistakes. But once again we made them at inopportune times.
"Against a football team as good as Rockhurst, you can't do that because they take advantage of those mistakes. But credit our kids. With the game on the line we did what we had to do.''
When the Hawklets fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Flyers recovered and ran out the clock to preserve the win.
"Three big plays. That was the difference in the ballgame. It came down to those three plays,'' Rockhurst coach Tony Severino said. "The first play of the game, the long pass from Jones to Thomas and the play right before the half.
"I thought our kids battled hard and we took advantage of our chances in the second half. But with five new offensive lineman, there was no way we could handle the lineman (Terry Beckner), linebacker (Kyron Watson) and defensive back (Taylor). They were all over us all night.''
Flyers running back Natereace Strong ran 75 yards for a touchdown on the Flyers' first play and Jones fired an 11-yard pass to Thomas on the final play of the first half for East St. Louis' other two scores.
Strong finished with 217 yards rushing on 31 carries.
Rockhurst, ranked third in the Missouri Class 6 poll, erased a 13-0 deficit in the second half when defensive back Jevon Goodman recovered a fumble in the end zone.
Quarterback T.J. Green, son of former NFL quarterback Trent Green, fired a 13-yard scoring pass to Jake Simshueman on the second play of the fourth quarter to give the Hawklets a 14-13 lead.
Following the go-ahead score, the Flyers fumbled the ensuing kickoff giving the Hawklets possession inside the 35-yard line.
But as it did all night, the Flyers' defense rose to the occasion.
"The defense did a tremendous job all night. I thought Terry (Beckner) and Kyron (Watson) did a tremendous job of leading those guys,'' Sunkett said.