Dominic Lovett scores for East St. Louis
Senior running back DaMonta Witherspoon rushed for 194 yards and three touchdowns and the East St. Louis defense held Trinity Catholic to three first downs in a 32-0 triumph Saturday at the Gateway Scholars Football Classic.
The top-ranked Class 5A team in Illinois, East St. Louis scored twice in its first nine offensive plays to grab a 13-0 lead then turned the game over to its defense which, led by senior defensive lineman Kendrick Scarborough, held one of the top programs in St. Louis scoreless for the first time in nearly five years.
Junior quarterback Tyler Macon added touchdown passes to Dominic Lovett and Antonio Johnson and finished the night with 214 yards in the air.
But it was Witherspoon who set the tone for the Flyers early offense. The 5-10, 190-pound back rushed for 45 yards on his three carries and gave East St. Louis a lead with a 7-yard run.
“We came out and played well early. The line was doing a great job. We kind of bogged down there and I just reminded them that they had to keep blocking hard, that the game wasn’t over,’’ Witherspoon said. “But when we run the football like we did early tonight, it opens up the passing game.’’
Witherspoon added scoring runs of 44 and 55 yards in the second half.
Scarborough was one of several Flyers who was all over the Clyde Jordan Memorial Stadium turf on Saturday in a game which was played before a near capacity crowd.
“We knew they were playing without some of their guys (due to injuries), but we also had an idea of who we needed to watch. That could do some things and we did that. Defense really stepped up tonight,’’ Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said. “On offense, I thought we were very sloppy. We left 28 points out there because of mistakes. We need to clean some things up on offense.’’
Fresh off a 31-17 win at Class 7A state power Batavia last week, the Flyers (2-0) came out with an early assault on the Titans.
Needing just six plays and 1 minute 39 seconds, the Flyers, behind Witherspoon, marched 57 yards on six plays to take a 6-0 lead.
Witherspoon, who ran for 226 yards against Batavia, scored on a 7-yard run with 10:21 left.
The score was all the Flyers would need as their defense, allowing just one first down in the first half, dominated the over-matched Trinity offense.
The Titans, who fell to East St. Louis 32-26 a year ago at the Gateway Scholars Classic, were also playing shorthanded after Ohio State University wide receiver recruit Teriyon Cooper withdrew from Trinity last week. Trinity managed just one first down in the first half.
Trinity coach Terrence Curry, also crediting the Flyers defense in the physically played game, said the officiating was not equitable.
“It was very physical and we were playing a lot of young guys,’’ Curry said. “Now, I’m not one to ever make excuses, but I’ve got to stand up for my guys.
“There were some things going on, like late hits and holding on to some shirts that weren’t being called. We said something to the officials and there were some flags thrown late, but that’s not right.’’
Junior quarterback Tyler Macon connected with speedy wide receiver Dominic Lovett on a 23-yard scoring strike late in the first quarter then connected with Johnson from 40 yards out early in the second period.