It isn’t often the quarterback of the Triad Knights gets the opportunity to pass the ball.
So when senior quarterback Cody Qualls was asked to go to the air on the first play from scrimmage of the Knights’ 44-7 win over Collinsville on Friday, he made sure to take advantage.
Dropping back in play action, Qualls connected with Kevin Kigin on a 53-yard pass play down the middle of the field that set the stage — Triad scored two plays later on a 24-yard run by Qualls — for a lopsided win by the Knights.
“We had been throwing a lot in the offseason, so I really was not all that nervous about it,” said Qualls, who is calling signals for a team that threw the ball just 13 times in 11 games in 2016. “I was ready for it. It was awesome.”
That was just the start of a big night for Qualls and the Knights.
Not only did he score the game’s first touchdown two plays later. He would run for two more touchdowns on runs of 29 and 35 yards. Overall, Qualls finished the game with 131 rushing yards on 11 carries. He also completed 2 of 6 passes for 67 yards.
“I’ve been playing football with these guys since I was 5 years old,” said Qualls, who spent the previous two seasons as backup to Trevor Bauer. “We’ve got so much chemistry, it’s amazing. I think we can take it all the way.”
Senior running back Trevor Nott put up big numbers for Triad (2-0) for the second consecutive game. He ran the ball 11 times for 163 yards and scored on runs of 16, 24 and 46 yards.
Nott rushed for 132 yards and five TDs in the Knights’ 48-20 win over Mattoon in Week 1.
Against Collinsville (0-2), Triad owned a 21-0 lead by the end of the opening quarter and 30-0 at halftime.
Qualls’ 35-yard scoring run with 6:03 left in the third quarter put the game into a running clock at 44-0.
Triad finished the game with more than 400 rushing yards.
“Our machine kind of kept rolling,” said Triad coach Paul Bassler. “It was just Triad football. Blood and guts for three yards and three yards, and go for it on fourth down if we have too.
“They actually played a different defense from what we expected, and our kids did an excellent job transitioning to taking what they were giving us.”
It was a rough night for the Kahoks. Their starting offense had managed fewer than 100 total yards before Triad pulled its defensive starters once the lead reached 44-0.
Collinsville’s lone score came on an 11-yard run by Damien Clark with 32.7 seconds left in the third quarter.
“It was not so much what they did but what we did not do,” said Collinsville coach Rick Reinhart, whose team was missing some players because of missed practices. “We are in a process where if kids do not show up for practice, we are not playing them. So therefore, we’re going to play the kids who show up and work hard. Take the results and get better.”
Triad will travel to Mount Vernon next Friday night. Collinsville will be Alton in Week 3 for its Southwestern Conference opener.