High School Sports

In the early morning hours, East St. Louis triumphs with another Gateway Classic

East St. Louis DeMonta Witherspoon  runs in for the touch down in the first quarter during Saturday’s game at Clyde Jordan Stadium.
East St. Louis DeMonta Witherspoon runs in for the touch down in the first quarter during Saturday’s game at Clyde Jordan Stadium.

One of the longest games in East St. Louis football history had a happy ending for the Flyers Saturday at Clyde Jordan Stadium.

It just took until 12:02 a.m.

Tired and worn after battling for over three hours in hot, humid conditions, junior running back DeMonta Witherspoon scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third overtime and the Flyers defense batted down a fourth down pass to clinch a 32-26 win over St. Louis Trinity Catholic in the finale of the Gateway Scholars Football Classic.

Witherspoon, who rushed for 165 yards and scored the touchdown that sent the game into a second overtime, tallied on a 1-yard run to give the Flyers (1-1) the lead.

The Titans (0-2) were then called for a crack-back block on their first play from the 10-yard line and were pushed back to the 25 to start their four play series. Sophomore quarterback Tam Williams, who threw for two touchowns and accounted for both the Titans’ scores in overtime, ran the ball three times, moving it to the Flyers 6-yard line.

But after moving out of the pocket on fourth down, Williams had his pass tipped by the Flyers defense. When the ball fell to the turf, East St, Louis players stormed the field to celebrate.

East St. Louis head coach Darren Sunkett & coach Hadith Mitchum as seen during Saturday’s game at Clyde Jordan Stadium. Jimmy J Simmons

“I don’t know who tipped the ball. I’m just glad someone got a hand on it,’’ an exhausted Witherspoon said. “After last week when we lost (to Detroit King (52-38), we knew we had to come and play better this week..

“This is a huge win. We can beat anybody if we play well.’’

The Flyers, who tied the game at 14 late in the third quarter on a 32-yard run by their sophomore quarterback, Tyler Macon, were forced to come from behind twice in overtime following touchdowns by Williams.

Witherspoon scored to the game at 20 in the first overtime and Macon connected with junior wide receiver Lawaun Powell on a 6-yard pass to tie the game at the end of the second overtime.

“This is why we work so hard in the summer is for situations like this one. I really believe that out conditioning and the type of kids we have who put the time in was a difference in the overtimes. We are in shape and that conditioning tonight really paid off,’’ Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said. “He (Williams) really caused some problems and we had trouble containing him. But our kids stepped up and made the plays in the third overtime.’’

Running behind his huge offensive line, Witherspoon rushed for 99 yards in the first half. Ripping off gains of 29 and 14 yards, the 5-11, 190-pound junior put the finishing touch on the Flyers second possession of the night with a 2-yard touchdown un late in the first quarter.

That lead lasted less than a minute as Williams conncted with Terriyon Cooper cutting across the middle of the field. After breaking a tackle, Cooper ran up the side;line for the go-ahead score.