Dionte Rodgers carried the football just once in the second half, but he’d already had a full game after two quarters.
Edwardsville’s sophomore running back was a rude guest at Belleville East’s homecoming, rushing for 148 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers’ 49-13 rout of the Lancers Friday.
“Coach just told me to just keep hitting the holes right and that’s that,” Rodgers said.
And just like that, the Tigers are 5-0 with a date next week against undefeated East St. Louis, a winner over Belleville West Friday. The game likely will decide the Southwestern Conference championship.
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Edwardsville coach Matt Martin said the Tigers have been focused on the Lancers the last six days, but preparation for East Side will begin in earnest.
“We’re going to start working right now,” he said. “If you want to be conference champ, this is a big step.”
The Lancers fell to 1-4 with the loss. Several starters left the field with injuries and did not return.
“I’m not sure what we take from this one. We’ll have to watch the film and pull something out of it,” said East head coach Kris Stephens. “We’ve got to turn around and play West next Saturday. We’re going to have to see what we have available and put the best team out there we’ve got.”
Edwardsville moved the ball into East territory on its first two possessions, but the Lancers got drive-killing interceptions from Quantavius Alexander and Tyreke Kerley.
But Rodgers quickly put the Tigers ahead with four touchdown runs on his next six carries. He had scores from 2, 11, 61 and 13 yards out, all of them starting between the tackles.
Rodgers credited Daval Torres for softening up the middle by finding the edges on a jet sweep that yielded 108 yards on just four attempts.
“They caught us guessing a couple of times defensively and really hurt us up the middle,” Stephens said. “That’s been the story every week. We let one guy get loose. We can stop a bunch, but we can’t stop that one guy.”
The Tigers’ defense, led by ends A.J. Epenesa and Nathan Kolesa, meanwhile, held East to just 58 net yards of offense and two first downs in the first half.
Torres scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Edwardsville quarterback Brenden Dickmann and Kendall Abdur-Rahman had a four-yard touchdown run to start the continuous game clock with 3:37 left in the third quarter.
Rodgers finished with 148 yards on 14 carries. Edwardsville, as a team, had 368 rushing yards. Dickmann added 55 more through the air, completing 5-of-12. Torres had 44 yards receiving to go with his 108 yards on the ground. Dayleon Harris contributed a kickoff return 90 yards for a touchdown.
For Belleville East, Waller completed 15-of-27 passes for 149 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown pass to Kerley. Travis William had 5 catches for 75 yards. DaMonta Witherspoon led the Lancers with 35 yards on 10 carries.