Mason Hewitt made sure his second-to-last home game in an O’Fallon uniform was a memorable one.
The Panthers’ senior running back rushed for a whopping 345 yards and five touchdowns, and returned a kickoff 82 yards for another score as O’Fallon earned its fourth straight win, blowing past Belleville East 70-28 on Friday night the O’Fallon Sports Complex.
O’Fallon officials announced that Hewitt broke the school’s single-season rushing record, which stood since 1989. He also set a single-game record for total yards with 427.
Needless to say, he was happy.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“That makes me feel pretty good,” Hewitt said of breaking the records. “I know there have been some really good running backs here, and I’m glad I can play at that level. My line blocked really well and gave me some big holes to run through, and I just took it and took off.”
Hewitt gained 130 yards and scored three touchdowns in the third quarter alone, and picked up another 60 on three carries early in the fourth quarter before hitting the sidelines with the rest of the starters for the remainder of the game.
“We didn’t play very well, and (Hewitt’s) really, really good,” Belleville East coach Kris Stephens said. “There’s not a whole lot else to say about it. There were a couple times we hit him in the backfield, and he’s big enough and strong enough that he just runs right through arm tackles like that.”
O’Fallon (5-3, 4-2 Southwestern Conference) went with the thunder-and-lightning approach in the first half. Hewitt was the bowling ball relentlessly pounding up the middle, which opened up opportunities for quarterback Christian Perez and the Panthers’ receivers. Perez finished with 213 yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to Darryl Cobb Jr., who caught five passes for 139 yards.
“We’ve been pretty good about being balanced this year,” O’Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst said. “I think we had about 150 (rushing) and 150 (passing) in the first half. Anytime we can keep a defense guessing, it gives us a little advantage.”
Belleville East (1-7, 1-6) scored with 20 seconds left before halftime when Kienen Waller hit Roderick Morgan for a 9-yard touchdown pass, making the score 35-14. Any momentum the Lancers could have taken into the locker room was wiped out on the ensuing kickoff, which bounced off one O’Fallon returner and into the hands of Hewitt, who rumbled 82 yards for a score with 5 seconds left.
The Lancers couldn’t get much going on the ground, but they found some success in the screen passing game. Waller threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns, two of which went to Morgan. The others were a 28-yard catch by Quantavius Alexander and a 16-yard score to Jerry Watson.
Belleville East looks to finish on a strong note when it travels to Collinsville, and O’Fallon hopes to keep its playoff hopes alive by playing host to East St. Louis. Both games are at 7 p.m. Friday.