Even with a substantial lead, it meant quite a bit for the Althoff Crusaders to keep the Mater Dei Knights out of the end zone in the final minutes Friday night.
So when Mater Dei quarterback Travis Jasper tossed an incomplete pass into the end zone on fourth and nine from the Althoff 12-yard line to close out his team’s final possession of the game, the Crusaders were ecstatic to have sewn up their second shutout of the season with a 33-0 victory at Lindenwood Stadium.
“That was big,” said Althoff senior defensive lineman Damien Stokley, who recovered a pair of Mater Dei fumbles in the first half. “We really wanted to go out there and play hard for coach (defensive coordinator Adam) Frazier, whose grandma died this week.
“And as a team it was just as important to go out there and get the win.”
It was a game that seemed to belong to Althoff from the opening kickoff.
The Crusaders came into the game ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Class 4A poll and No. 1 in the News-Democrat’s small-school rankings.
Meanwhile, Mater Dei was without starting quarterback AJ Albers, who was injured in an 18-0 loss to Alton Marquette last week. The Knights were limited to 117 yards of total offense by the Crusaders.
Althoff (3-0) got a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs in the first half from senior Richard Cosey to build a 14-0 lead.
“It’s a big win,” said Althoff coach Ken Turner, whose team has won four straight meetings with Mater Dei in the “Holy Grail” rivalry game. “I thought we played well, but we also had some penalties at the wrong times.”
The Crusaders’ biggest issue was penalties. They were flagged 11 times in the game for 110 yards. Three of those penalties resulted in Althoff having touchdowns called back.
Fortunately for the Crusaders, they still managed to score on those possessions.
“At least, we did not lose points,” said Turner. “But it does result in extra plays that we have to use.
“But I am happy with the guys performance. We’ve been coming out in the second half and kind of turning it up, like we did today. But we have to get it rolling in the first half too.”
Mater Dei’s only trip into the red zone came on its final possession.
“I thought we had a great game plan, but we had to vacate it and keep it vanilla and simple,” said Mater Dei coach Jim Stiebel. “And at times out there, we were our worst enemy, did some silly stuff.
Next week, Althoff remains at home when it hosts Mount Vernon. Mater Dei is on the road again, traveling to Mount Carmel.