EDWARDSVILLE — Maybe the Edwardsville Tigers were saving the best of running back Elijah Crockett for the playoffs.
Making his first start Friday in a Class 7A first-round game, Crockett ran for a career-high 244 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Dan Marinko ran for five TDs in the Tigers' 59-28 dismantling of the (Tinley Park) Andrew Thunderbolts.
"They told me I was going to get the ball a lot," said Crockett, a 5-foot-6, 150-pound senior who closed out the scoring Friday with a 83-yard touchdown run. "This is new for me. It's awesome."
So was the Tigers' offense, which rolled up 627 yards as Edwardsville (10-0) moved into the second round and a road game against Bradley-Bourbonnais (7-3).
Bradley-Bourbonnais defeated Pekin 24-20 on Friday.
Edwardsville coach Matt Martin was overjoyed to see Crockett's big night.
"He's what's exciting about high school football," Martin said. "We've had some pretty good guys in D'Anthony (Knight) and Craig (James) and when they got banged up a little bit, we gave him more carries and he took advantage of it.
"That's fun to see as a coach."
Also making sure he got in on the fun was Marinko, the Tigers' record-setting quarterback. Marinko ran for 117 yards and five TDs on 12 carries and also completed 13-of-22 passes for 213 yards and another TD.
One game. Six touchdowns.
"Danny's game was Danny. ... He was pretty much 'Danny Football,' the guy's amazing," Crockett said. "He's amazing to run the ball, pass the ball. ... He knows what to do. He tells me the plays some time and helps me out. He's a big part of the team."
It was a rough start for the Tigers as Andrew's Daniel Ball ran the opening kickoff back 87 yards to the Edwardsville 4. Thunderbolts quarterback Jacob Platt scored from a yard out and the Tigers were quickly in a 7-0 hole.
"Fire the special teams coach," said Martin, who handles that part of the job. "Bad job on my part."
It turned out to be an extremely shallow hole as Crockett scored on a 19-yard run less than two minutes later.
"The O-line did a great job and without the O-line it's nothing," Crockett said.
Marinko and the Tigers' steamrolling offensive line then went to work and produced three straight Marinko rushing TDs before the first half ended on the way to a 28-14 lead.
Marinko added a fourth straight touchdown to start the second half, making a fake before flying through the Andrew defense for a 57-yard score.
Martin said the game plan coming in was to feature the run, figuring Andrew had seen enough game film to know the Tigers liked to pass.
"That's something we hoped coming in, that we could run the ball a little bit," Martin said, downplaying the 414 yards the Tigers gained on the ground. "I think we were able to, I don't know what the stats were."
The Edwardsville defense also shut down Andrew star running back Jarvion Franklin, a Western Michigan recruit. Franklin finished with 47 yards on 17 carries. He did flash some of his trademark speed during a 66-yard TD pass late in the first half.
The Tigers also had four sacks.
Playoff victories never get old for Martin, whose team is ranked fourth in Class 7A. He was asked about the importance of the postseason win.
"That's a wise question, because I think people take it for granted," he said. "It's tough. To get a win is special."