EAST ST. LOUIS — If Lombard Montini quarterback Alex Willis and his Broncos teammates wanted to make a point Saturday at Clyde Jordan Stadium, they pulled it off.
Willis riddled the heralded East St. Louis defense for 163 yards and five touchdown passes as the four-time Class 5A defending state champion Broncos romped to a 34-6 win in the finale of the Fourth Annual City of Champions Foundation Football Classic.
In a battle of two of the top programs in state history, which have combined for 12 state championships, East St. Louis (1-1) struck first when quarterback Temarcus Jones fired a 22-yard scoring pass to Gregory Taylor with just five minutes gone in the game.
But the Broncos, ranked first in the Class 5A poll, struck all over the field for the next two quarters.
Spreading the wealth, Willis threw scoring passes to four different receivers in the final 17 minutes of the first half as Montini (2-0) took a 27-6 lead into halftime.
"We saw some things we could take advantage of after the first drive and we were able to create some breakdowns with some shorter patterns,'' Willis said. "The credit goes to our offensive line though.
"East St. Louis is a great football team with a very good defense and our line was able to do the job. The receivers made some great catches, too.''
Willis then put the game away with 6:05 left in the third quarter when he threw a 9-yard scoring pass to Leon Thornton III to make the score 34-6.
The Flyers (1-1), ranked second in the Class 6A poll, who were guilty of four turnovers, had no answers in the second half against a tough Broncos' defense.
Following the win, a smiling Montini coach Chris Andriano didn't have anything negative to say about his team.
"We played really well tonight. We got off to a bit of a slow start, but we were able to recover and Alex (Willis) did a good job of seeing the defensive breakdowns and taking advantage of them,'' Andriano said. "The defense did a good job. We were able to match their speed and we got a couple of big turnovers. Even our special teams, I thought, outplayed them.''
After East St. Louis took the lead, the Broncos came right back.
With Willis completing three of five passes, Montini marched 65 yards on six plays to take the lead when Willis fired a 46-yard pass to senior Connor Costello, and with 5:49 left in the first quarter Montini led 7-6.
With Jones struggling to find open receivers and their running game bottled up, the Flyers didn't really muster much more offense until late in the game.
"It was just like last week. We were very inconsistent offensively,'' a disappointed Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said. "We would run one good offensive play then we would have eight or nine plays when we didn't execute. You can't beat good teams like that.
"Defensively, we had some breakdowns with our pass coverage and Montini took advantage.''
A little more than three minutes after taking the lead, Willis made it 14-6 with a 39-yard scoring strike to Thornton.
Touchdown passes of 9 yards to Matt Brachmann and 16 yards to Tyler Tumpane in the second quarter put Montini up 27-6.