Granite City sensation Freddy Edwards set the tone early with a 98-yard touchdown run and the Warriors defense bent but didn’t break on Friday at Granite City High School.
Edwards ran for 254 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Logan Gordon and Montre Sneed added interception returns for scores as Granite City moved closer toward its first playoff berth in seven years with a 39-27 win over the Mater Dei Knights.
Ranked sixth in the Class 4A state poll, Mater Dei drove the length of the field on its opening drive. But on fourth and 1 from inside the Warriors 5-yard line, Knights running back Logan Ratermann was stopped short of the first down.
On the very next play, Edwards broke to the left sideline and outran the Knights defense for his game-changing score. The Warriors (4-3) would never trail as Edwards and the Warriors made big plays throughout and sent Mater Dei to its first loss of the season.
“He’s a game changer and that was a game changing play,’’ an emotional Granite City coach Brad Hasquin said of Edwards run.
Edwards added a 1-yard soring run and added an 81-yard touchdown pass to Justin Wiley for the Warriors, who need to win one of their two remaining games to become playoff eligible for the first time since 2011. The Warriors lost to East St. Louis in a Class 7A playoff game in 2011.
“It’s one game at a time,’’ Hasquin said. “I’m just proud of the kids. We hurt oursevles with penalties all night but we just kept battling. The defense was tremendous and we made big plays and big stops when we needed to.’’
Mater Dei, which rallied from a 26-6 deficit to cut its deficit to 26-21 on a 12-yard run by Travis Jasper early in the fourth quarter, was guilty of four turnovers. But midway in the final period it appeared the Knights would take the lead after moving the ball deep into Warriors territory.
But as it did on four occasions on Friday, the Warriors stopped the Knights on a fourth down play. Logan Gordon, who increased the Warriors lead to 26-6 with a 13-yard interception return late in the second quarter, went seven yards for a touchdown to widen the lead to 33-21.
Sneed put the icing on the cake with his 101-yard interception return with 2 minutes 41 seconds remaining.
“I have no excuses. We just didn’t match the physical play of Granite City early in the game. Plus the mistakes and turnovers hurt us,’’ Knights coach Jim Steibel said. “I’m proud of my team for the way it battled back. We had a chance.’’
Jasper scored three touchdowns to lead the Knights offense.’’