COLLINSVILLE — John Blaylock's first victory as the Collinsville Kahoks' football coach won't be remembered as a thing of beauty.
But in the end, that hardly mattered after the Kahoks overcame an early deficit and defeated Triad 24-14 on Friday.
Junior tailback Jamal Wellmaker scored two touchdowns and junior quarterback Connor Zabala scored one for Collinsville, which overcame an emotional 23-21 loss to Althoff last week and evened its record at 1-1.
"I'm thrilled," Blaylock said. "The kids finally got paid. It's certainly not about me; it's about those guys. For years, they've put in the work. They don't run any less, they don't work any less in practice. But we don't get paid quite as often as other teams do, so it was great to see those guys get paid tonight."
Triad, which led 7-0 in the second quarter, fell to 0-2. The Knights were unable to capitalize on 16 penalties on Collinsville, which had two touchdowns called back by flags.
"We couldn't get things going," said Triad coach Paul Bassler, whose team was slapped with eight penalties of its own. "Well, we did get things going. I bet we have a lot of yards, but the problem was we were not taking advantage of field position.
"It's frustrating. ... We did some really nice things, but I think we panicked there a little bit. The kids kind got out of sync, and I got out of sync also. Especially coming out of halftime, I really got out of rhythm. I don't know what to attribute that to."
After a scoreless and sloppy first quarter, Triad struck first when junior Josiah Pottorff recovered an incomplete lateral by Zabala and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown. Pottorff's PAT made it 7-0 at the 3:41 mark of the second quarter.
Collinsville, however, capitalized on a facemask call by the Knights and got on the board on Wellmaker's 11-yard run with 1:35 remaining in the half. Sophomore Josh Calvin's PAT made it 7-7.
Kahoks sophomore Max Lyons then intercepted a pass by Triad senior quarterback Jason Barbour, putting Collinsville on the Knights' 25. Calvin wound up kicking a 25-yard field goal with 14.4 seconds to play, and Collinsville led 10-7 at halftime.
The Kahoks went ahead 17-7 on their first possession of the third quarter. A 23-yard run by junior Jordan Miller and a 15-yard scamper by Wellmaker put Collinsville on the Triad 5, and Zabala put his head down and crashed into the end zone at the 8:53 mark.
Frank's PAT built the margin to 10 points, and it remained that way until Triad finally got going offensively late in the fourth quarter.
After Barbour suffered a foot injury that forced him to leave the game, junior Alex Crehan engineered a 69-yard drive that culminated with sophomore Adam Nelson's 6-yard touchdown run. Pottorff's PAT drew Triad with 17-14 with 34.7 seconds left.
Wellmaker, however, fielded the ensuing onside kick and returned it 50 yards for the clinching touchdown.
"We played hard tonight," Wellmaker said, still out of breath from his second touchdown. "I saw an opening and I just took off. This feels great. We've lost to them a lot of times. We just had to get this win. We need to keep working hard as a team."
Blaylock said the kick couldn't have gone to a better player than Wellmaker.
"On an onside kick ... when you're a kicker and you're trying to look at who you're going to kick to, you kind of look for that guy that's a little fidgety and a little nervous," he said. "As coaches, we all kind of looked at each other and said, 'Yeah, Jamal probably wasn't the guy to pick. He has great hands, great vision, and as you can see, he picked up 50 yards pretty quickly."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.