BELLEVILLE — A Belleville West defense that helped force seven turnovers last week in a win over O'Fallon had no answer for the Edwardsville Tigers on Friday.
Unbeaten Edwardsville maintained a firm grip on the Southwestern Conference race with a 45-14 victory over the previously unbeaten Maroons, rolling up 534 yards of offense.
The win pushed the Tigers (6-0, third in the Class 7A state rankings) to 4-0 in the conference, while West (5-1, ranked sixth in 7A) fell to 3-1.
At the controls of the attack was Tigers junior quarterback Dan Marinko, who completed 22-of-30 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns.
All four TD passes came in the second half, including three in the third quarter. Marinko, who has thrown for 1,430 yards and 18 TDs in six games, also ran for a touchdown.
Also stepping up onto the big stage was a swarming and aggressive Edwardsville defense that mostly stopped the potent West rushing attack and forced two turnovers.
"It just shows that as a team we're deep on both sides of the ball," Marinko said. "It's a lot of credit to our offense, it's come a long way and we keep improving every week."
Marinko was exceptionally sharp in the third quarter. With the Tigers already leading 17-7, he floated a pass over the top of the defense to tight end Hayden Schmidt and Schmidt didn't stop running until he reached the end zone 74 yards away.
West scored on a 2-yard run by Brian Hill to cut the lead to 24-14, but the Tigers quickly pulled away.
Fontez Davis, who had 10 catches for 97 yards, hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Marinko. Davis had only seven catches for 127 yards before Friday, but Marinko made him an integral part of the attack.
"He really stepped up tonight and took advantage of some matchups that he had and the defense they were playing," Marinko said of Harris. "All our receivers did a great job tonight."
"Danny does a good job of taking what's there," Edwardsville coach Matt Martin said. "Those (other) guys have to be patient and they have to know some day it's going to be their day, some days it won't. A lot of it has to do with what they're doing defensively."
The junior quarterback also found a wide-open Tommy Maxwell for a 17-yard TD pass before the third quarter ended.
That TD was set up when a hit by Edwardsville's Isaiah Michl on West's Dominic Davis forced a fumble on a kickoff return.
The Tigers put 45 points up on a West defense that had allowed only 89 all season.
"They were better than us tonight, hats off to them," said West coach Cameron Pettus, whose team has allowed more than 500 yards of offense in each of the last two games. "Great and congratulations (to Edwardsville). That's fantastic for them. It's not good for us."
Edwardsville opened the night with a 60-yard scoring drive capped by a 12-yard touchdown run by D'Anthony Knight.
On the next drive, Marinko used his speed to break off a 50-yard run that got the Tigers to the West 1-yard line. Marinko scored on the next play and freshman Riley Patterson's extra point put Edwardsville on top 14-0.
Boyd left the game with an apparent leg injury with 7:08 remaining in the third quarter. Hill switched to quarterback and helped finish a scoring drive before sophomore Cal Kossina completed the game at quarterback.
Taking over at their own 19 with 4:21 left in the first half, the Maroons got some life on a 33-yard run by Hill. Antoine Davis scored from 15 yards out to cut the Edwardsville lead to 17-7.
Edwardsville's defense bottled up the Maroons, who were averaging 45.8 points, and sacked Boyd four times.
"I just challenged our kids to be assignment sound and to tackle," Martin said. "They're just a heck of a football team and they're young, I just see nothing but good things for them but I am proud of our boys, this was quite a challenge. They did a good job tonight."