Saturday’s rescheduled replay of last year’s Class 4A state semifinal football game turned out as the Illinois Associated Press poll would have predicted.
But even the pollsters under-estimated the athletic gap between No. 1 and No. 3.
The Althoff Crusaders maintained a firm grip on the top spot with a dominating 40-16 win over third-ranked Mater Dei 40-16 in the third annual “Holy Grail” rivalry game in Breese.
Althoff’s first-team slashed, sprinted and passed its way to nearly 500 yards of offense before being relieved midway through the third quarter.
“I don’t want this to sound wrong because we’ve played really good football,” said coach Ken Turner, whose Crusaders entered week 3 averaging 54 points per game, “but we haven’t run the offense clean as consistently as we want to do. I think we did tonight. It was a really good game all around.”
If there was a blemish in the Crusader’s game, it would be the 17 penalties that set them back 175 yards. It hardly slowed them down, though —Althoff punted just twice in the game. By halftime, Althoff ammased 418 yards of offense.
“We don’t want to be know as the team that racks up penalties,” Turner said. “I know this team and know it’s disciplined. I’m not going to lie to you, I thought there were too many flags thrown.”
The game was scheduled to be played Friday night but, like most games across southwestern Illinois, was postponed due to lightning and the threat of sever weather. The later-than-usual 8 p.m. kickoff was necessitated by a regularly-scheduled soccer game and ACT tests earlier in the afternoon.
Althoff senior running back Jaylon Bester set the tempo for himself and his team early on. On the Crusaders’ first play from scrimmage, he covered 67 yards off a reverse for an apparent touchdown only to have the run brought back on a 10-yard holding penalty.
Bester got the ball again two plays later and scored from 77 yards out.
“I said it last week and I’ll probably say it again next week, but nothing Jaylon does surprises me,” Turner said.
Justin Strong broke a 32-yard touchdown run, quarterback Trevon Mosley scored from three yards out, then completed a 42-yard pass to C.J. Coldon for another to make the score 27-0.
Just when it looked like Mater Dei got a break in the battle for field position — thanks to a 40-yard punt by Jake Timmermann inside the Althoff 5 — Bester broke loose again and sprinted 94 yards for his second touchdown of the game.
He went into the locker room at halftime with 242 yards on just nine carries.
Then Bester went 46 yards on the first play of the second half to make the score 40-0 and trigger the continuous game clock.
“I got to give the credit to the offensive line and the wide receivers,” Bester said. “They did a great job up front and a great job blocking outside and it opened a lot up for us in the running and the passing game.”
Mater Dei scored twice in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Colin Schuetz passed to Timmermann for a seven-yard score and A.J. Albers had a two-yard touchdown run.
Althoff quarterback Trevon Mosley completed eight of 15 pass attempts for 130 yards, including the 42-yard touchdown strike to Colden, who had four first-half catches for 80 yards.
Schuetz did his best to keep the Knights in the game, completing 12 of 31 attempts for 124 yards, despite several drops. He was intercepted once. Running back Jake Wieter led Mater Dei with 54 yards on nine carries.
Althoff (3-0) begins its South Seven Conference schedule at Mount Vernon Friday at 7 p.m. Mater Dei (2-1) will be back home against Mount Carmel.