Once the Althoff Crusaders broke things open Saturday with three touchdowns in a span of 27 seconds early in the second half, the only mystery remaining was their state championship game opponent.
Althoff won its 13th straight game in dominant fashion, advancing to the Class 4A state title game with a 48-20 semifinal victory over the Mater Dei Knights at Lindenwood Stadium.
“It means the world,” Althoff junior linebacker Bryson Strong said. “We worked our butts off all summer and I’m just extremely blessed. We’re going to execute and do everything we need to do next week to make sure we come home with a ring.”
Althoff (13-0) will face Chicago Phillips (13-0) for the Class 4A championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Phillips advanced with a 47-13 win in its semifinal game.
Althoff will be trying for its fourth state title after winning previously in 1980, 1989 and 1990.
It means the world. We worked our butts off all summer and I’m just extremely blessed. We’re going to execute and do everything we need to do next week to make sure we come home with a ring.
Althoff linebacker Bryson Strong
The Crusaders also advanced to the 2012 Class 2A state title game before losing to Mercer County.
The avalanche of scoring came fast and furious just after the second-half kickoff with Althoff leading 21-6.
C.J. Coldon scored on a 20-yard run and Althoff’s Trevon Mosely recovered an onside kick. Fifteen seconds later, Malik Easley blazed a path to the end zone from 48 yards out. Once Mater Dei finally gained possession, quarterback Colin Schuetz was picked off by Savannah, who took it 42 yards for another TD.
Only 27 seconds had elapsed as the Crusaders again showed their propensity to strike quickly and score often.
They’ve got so many weapons, athletes everywhere.When they get rolling they don’t stop.
Mater Dei’s Butchie Timmermann talking about Althoff
“That’s what we’re capable of and that’s really what got us here, the big play,” said Althoff senior quarterback Jordan Augustine, who shook off the cold long enough to complete 15-of-20 passes for 221 yards and TD while running for two more touchdowns. “It’s carried us throughout the season and the same thing happened today. Today the elements kept us from passing the ball as much as we wanted to, so we just pounded, pounded, pounded and broke big plays when we needed to.”
Mater Dei fought hard to stay within two touchdowns at halftime, but the early second-half explosion was too much.
“It hurts,” Mater Dei’s Butchie Timmermann said. “You can’t really get your head down on it, but obviously three scores when you’re right in the game takes it out of you. They’ve got so many weapons, athletes everywhere.
“When they get rolling they don’t stop.”
Augustine, who completed eight of his first nine passes despite the cold and winds gusting at up to 20 mph, ran for two touchdowns and threw for another. Althoff also got TD runs from Easley, Coldon and Jaylon Bester and a Savannah’s pick six.
Althoff junior Jordan Goodwin closed out his team’s scoring by hauling in a 38-yard TD pass late in the third quarter. Easley had 93 yards rushing on 13 carries with Bester battling an illness.
“It’s not a surprise,” Augustine said of the trip to the finals. “This is a goal we’ve been waiting for all year. We came out, we do what we do and got the win. The guys around me make it easy. “
QUICK START FOR KNIGHTS
Mater Dei struck quickly as Schuetz hit Josh Haberer on a crossing route and Haberer did the rest, finishing off a 75-yard TD pass with 7:32 remaining in the first quarter. The extra-point try was wide.
It was all Althoff for the rest of the half with Augustine scoring twice on touchdown runs and Bester adding a 6-yard TD run.
“It felt great,” Timmermann said of the early lead. “We knew if we’d get on top of them early it would be nice. Obviously things didn’t go our way toward the end of the game but I’m proud of these guys for the way they fought.
“Hats off to those guys, they played a heck of a game. Best of luck to them next week. I hope they can get it done.”
A 25-yard draw play to Bester helped set up Augustine’s first TD. Augustine picked his way through the defense for 14 yards to reach the end zone as Stone Galloway’s extra-point made it 7-6.
A 20-yard pass to Coldon set up Augustine’s 1-yard TD run early in the second quarter.
A Mater Dei drive stalled at fourth-and-12 at the Althoff 29 when Althoff’s Edwyn Brown knocked down a halfback pass from Timmermann.
After Bester’s 6-yard TD run made it 21-6, another Mater Dei drive was halted on an interception by Strong.
Althoff’s defense slammed the door all afternoon. The Knights scored twice in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Schuetz and a 62-yard run by Jake Timmermann. Take away that 62-yard run and the Knights had only 56 yards rushing on 21 carries.
“You have to take your hats off to them,” Mater Dei coach Jim Stiebel said. “They made some plays in critical situations and then obviously the special-teams debacle didn’t help us. They made some key plays in third-and-long situations all day long.”
Both teams planned to rely on the run rather than fighting the wind, but Althoff had more firepower thanks to Augustine’s throwing success.
“It was tough with the wind like this,” Althoff coach Ken Turner said. “We figured we’d come out and have to run the football and we felt comfortable with the running backs we’ve got. The few passes he threw he threw some great (ones).
“I thought both quarterbacks threw it OK for the wind to be as strong as it was.”