For a quarter, the O’Fallon Panthers did little more than watch Granite City freshman quarterback Freddie Edwards put on a show.
But with an adjustment or two on defense, and a little help from the rain, the Panthers were able to come away with a 44-34 Southwestern Conference victory on Friday night
In the opening quarter alone, Edwards rushed for 249 yards on 11 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 61, 44 and 36 yards as the Warriors built a 28-21 lead in the opening 12 minutes.
But beginning in the second quarter, the Panthers were able to rein in Edwards.
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Edwards carried the ball four times in the second quarter and lost 17 yards.
Thanks to a 6-yard touchdown run by Mason Hewitt and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Christian Perez to Ronald Taylor with less than a minute remaining in the half, O’Fallon went into the break with a 35-28 lead.
Perez completed 6 of his 9 first half passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s quite an athlete, really elusive” said O’Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst, whose team evened its record at 3-3 and 2-2 in the SWC. “We missed some tackles, got out of position. But we did a better job after that first quarter.”
“We also did a good job controlling the ball in the second half, keeping the ball out of his (Edwards’) hands. The kids stepped up after a rough start.
With heavy rain slowing both offenses, the Warriors tallied the first points of the second half when Edwards found the end zone on a 26-yard run with 2:21 left in the game
But the Panthers stopped him on the two-point conversion run, leaving O’Fallon in front 35-34.
Four plays later, the Panthers were in the end zone, Hewitt breaking off on a 53-yard run making it 41-34 with 19.9 left in the third quarter.
Granite would not cross midfield the rest of the way.
“Freddie had himself quite a first half,” said Granite City coach Carl Luehmann, whose team dropped to 3-3 and 2-2 in the SWC. “But they started keying him and the rain made it tough for him in the second half. He made some freshman mistakes.
“Things just didn’t go our way. But I am proud with how the kids played.”
Hewitt finished the game with 245 yards on 27 carries and pair of touchdowns. Perez was 6 of 11 passing for 175 yards with the three TDs and one interception.
Edwards finished his night with 326 yards rushing on 32 carries.
The game enduring a lengthy delay when Granite City junior tight end Adam Marmion suffered what appeared to be a serious injury to his left leg 54 seconds into the second half. He was taken from the field on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance.