With Althoff junior quarterback Hayes Taylor going through some opening-night jitters in his varsity debut, the Crusaders’ defense took over, holding Collinsville in check in a 42-0 nonconference victory at Lindenwood University-Belleville.
Althoff’s Iverson Brown returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. Then Richard Cosey scored on a 1-yard run following a 46-yard scamper by Justin Strong, as the Crusaders took a two-touchdown lead just seven minutes into the game.
But the real story was the Crusaders’ defense.
“The defense was great tonight, especially considering how many young kids we have playing on that side of the football,” Althoff coach Ken Turner said. “We gave up a couple of long pass plays, but the defense responded both times.”
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In the second half, Brown scored on an 11-yard run, Cosey added his second 1-yard scoring plunge and Strong scored on a 29-yard run to conclude the Crusaders’ scoring.
Trailing 14-0 midway through the first quarter, Collinsville got its offense moving under the leadership of sophomore quarterback Chris Chi.
Showing the ability to throw on the run, Chi completed eight of his first 10 attempts and twice moved Collinsville inside the Crusaders’ 25-yard line in the second quarter. But each time, the Althoff defense, led by 298-pound senior Devyn Nash, Anthony Hughes and Strong, turned the Kahoks away.
“We know we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we made plays and tuck together, like family, when we needed too,” said Strong, a Southern Illinois University Carbondale recruit. “The offense is young, and we made some mistakes, but we’ll be just fine.
“We were able to get the win. We’ll get better each week.”
It was Hughes who stymied the second Kahoks drive midway through the second quarter when he sacked Chi for a 19-yard loss. Two plays later, a Kahoks field goal attempt sailed just wide.
Collinsville would not threaten again until early in the fourth quarter when they trailed 28-0.
“They (Althoff) are just so much bigger than we are. They just wore us down in the fourth quarter. But we put ourselves in a hole on the first play of the game with the kickoff return,” Collinsville coach Rick Reinhart said.
“We’re just so young. We had three kids back there who had never been on a return team before. We turned the ball over four times. That’s way too many. The big thing is to see how we respond to this tonight. We have a lot to work on, but there were also a lot of bright spots.”
Althoff led 14-0 at halftime.