The streaks are over.
Reyondous Estes and Jarrell Anderson scored on short touchdown runs in the second quarter and senior linebacker James Knight put the game away with an interception return late in the fourth quarter as East St. Louis snapped the 30-game Edwardsville Southwestern Conference winning streak with a 20-10 win on Friday at the Edwardsville Sports Complex
Ranked first in the Class 7A state poll, East St. Louis fell behind the Tigers (5-1, 3-1) 10-0 in the first nine minutes of the game, but led by Knight, an all-Southwestern Conference linebacker the past two years, the Flyers defense was able to hold the Tigers scoreless in the final 39 minutes.
And it was Knight who made the big play in the end.
With a heavy rain falling midway in the fourth quarter, Edwardsville quarterback Brenden Dickmann made three long runs on three straight plays to take the ball inside the Flyers 25-yard line. But with the rain picking up, Dickmann had a pass deflected and Knight made the interception. The senior sprinted down the field was hit at the 5-yard line and fumbled. But Markevion Darough picked up the ball at the two and got into the end zone to give the Flyers the score.
The touchdown came with 4:36 remaining and East St. Louis had a 20-10 lead. poll, Against a fired up East St. Louis defense, the Tigers, ranked seventh in the Class 8A state poll, would not come back. The win breaks a three game regular season losing streak against Edwardsville and puts East St. Louis in the drivers seat for the SWC championship with three weeks remaining.
East St. Louis is now 6-0 for the season and 4-0 in the SWC.
“The defense played lights out all night,” East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. “Edwardsville got out in front of us but our kids kept battling and we were able to make plays.
“They (Edwardsville) had been able to get us two years in a row — I’m not going to even count the one last year — and tonight we were able to get it back. They (Edwardsville) are a very good team and I’m sure they will have success the rest of the season
Edwardsville struck first. On its third play from scrimmage, quarterback Brenden Dickmann connected with Dayleon Harris on a short pass. Harris ripped away from the Flyers defender and raced down the left sideline and wasn’t caught until the three yard line. With just over a minute gone in the game, Edwardsville took a 7-0 lead when sophomore Dionte Rogers scored on a 1-yard run.
Edwardsville then took advantage of a Flyers turnover a short time later. Estes had a pass intercepted and Edwardsville had the ball inside the East St. Louis 10-yard line.
But giving an indication of what was to be the theme of the evening, the Flyers defense made the held firm and Edwardsville was forced to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Devin Parker.
Trailing 10-0, the Flyers owned the second quarter. Anderson, who finished with 101 yards on 24 carries, began to assert himself and when Estes scored on a 2-yard run with 6:16 remaining in the opening half, the Tigers lead was 10-6.
A quick kick by Dickmann pinned East St. Louis down on own eight yard line with under four minutes left in the half. But instead of being content of trailing by four points at half, the Flyers went on the attack.
A12-yard pass from Estes to All-American Jeff Thomas followed by a 21-yard catch and run by Charlando Robinson moved the ball near midfield. But Estes, showing off his athletic ability then made the play of the drive.
With under a minute remaining, Estes, a University of Missouri recruit, got out of the pocket and raced 38 yards inside the Tigers 5-yard line. Anderson then scored on a 4-yard run and with 22 seconds left in the half, East St. Louis had a 12-10 lead and the momentum in the game.
“He’s a great athlete,” Edwardsville coach Matt Martin said of Estes. “Aside from his passing ability, as a runner when he gets outside the pocket, he is able to extend plays. That’s what he did on the run before the end of the half.
“I think we won the first quarter and they (East St. Louis) won the second quarter. The third quarter I think was probably a draw. I think we were a little unlucky that when we were driving in the fourth quarter that the rain picked up as hard as it did all night. But No 10 (Knight) was all over field all night. They (East St. Louis) are a very good football team.”
The win was special for Estes and his teammates, especially the seniors, who hadn’t beaten Edwardsville in their careers. They were also on the team which was denied a chance to play the Tigers and make the playoffs do to the East St. Louis teachers strike last year.
“Two great football teams going at it. We knew they (Edwardsville) would come out hard on us tonight and we just had to stay strong,” Estes said. “We had never beaten Edwardsville and with 12 or 13 seniors, we knew we had to dig in and get the job done,. We were fired up and the offense and defense, we were able to get it done.”