For the third time in three weeks, the new-look Belleville East Lancers offense lit up the scoreboard.
This time it was Friday night at Granite City High School.
Senior quarterback Drew Millas threw a pair of touchdown passes and added a 15-yard scoring run as Belleville East opened its Southwestern Conference season with a 44-7 win over the Granite City Warriors.
Millas threw scoring passes of 10 and 36 yards to wide receiver Anthony Dean and unofficially finshed his night by completing 26 of 36 passes for 263 yards as Belleville East (2-1, 1-0) won for the second straight week under first-year coach Kris Stephens.
“We talked to the kids before the game on now that we’re playing Southwestern Conference teams that we needed to be ready to play each week. I was very pleased on how we executed tonight on both sides of the football,” Stephens said. “We’re happy to be 2-1, but never satisfied. We’ll come in tomorrow (Saturday) see what corrections we need to make then come out and get ready for Alton next week.”
Belleville East led 10-0 midway in the second quarter following the first oif three field goals by Matt Sotiropoulos — a 42-yard kick. Sotiropoulos would add field goals of 25 and 36 yards later in the game. On the next Warrior possession, a daring fourth-down pass attempt by quarterback Gabe Jarman fell incomplete and Belleville East took over.
Eight plays later, Millas scored on a 15-yard run and with 8 minutes, 43 seconds left in the second quarter. The Lancers lead increase to 17-0. Moses Holman added a 10-yard run later in the quarter as the Lancers took a 24-0 advantage over the Warriors.
Held in check for most of the first half by a swarming Belleville East defense, Granite City got on the scoreboard with 1:13 left in the first half when quarterback Gabe Jarman connected with Kyle Thompson on a 36-yard scoring pass to cut the East lead to 24-7.
Unfazed by the Warriors’ score, Millas — who was 13 of 21 for 179 yards in the first two quarters — marched the Lancers 60 yards in nine plays for one final first-half score. The senior quarterback hooked up with Tony Dean on a 35-yard scoring pass with 7.3 seconds left in the half as East increased its lead to 31-7.
Dean also scored the first points of the night on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Millas midway in the first period.
DEFENSE COMES UP BIG
After giving up 110 points in the first two weeks of the season, the Belleville East defense made big plays all night against a Warrior team that had shown an ability to put points on the scoreboard during the first two weeks of the campaign. But swarming to the football throughout, East forced the Warriors into a pair of turnovers and was in control throughout.
“I thought we had a good game plan and we reacted very well against their option,” Stephens said. “Other then that we just cleaned up some of the mistakes we had been making the first couple of weeks. I’m proud of their effort.”
WARRIORS COACH CARL LUEHMANN
“Their team speed hurt us, but I thought the simple difference in the game was that they executed better then we did,” Luehmann said. “They were the better football team tonight.”
A RUNNING GAME
The tandem of Holman and sophomore Freddie Waller combined for 166 yards rushing for East. Waller ended the Lancers’ scoring attack with a 68-yard run midway through the final quarter and finished with 92 yards.
Belleville East will host Alton on Sept. 18; Granite City will play at East St. Louis on Sept. 18.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.