A huge first half from senior running back Ronald Clay helped carry the Mascoutah Indians to a 31-19 win over the Waterloo Bulldogs on Friday.
Despite missing the second half due to dehydration, Clay did more than enough in the first half when he rushed for 199 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 78 and 49 yards to help the Indians build a 24-6 lead by halftime.
His first touchdown came on the Indians’ second play from scrimmage, as he broke through the center of the Waterloo defense and found the right sideline.
Clay’s second score helped reverse the momentum after a fumble return for a touchdown by the Bulldogs’ Bryce Kirk had pulled Waterloo to within 10-6.
Junior Malik Green gave Mascoutah its 18-point halftime edge when he intercepted and returned a Graham Baker pass 13 yards for a touchdown 33.9 seconds before the break.
“Coach said it was important for us to set a good tempo from the start,” said Clay, who carried the ball 18 times in the first half. “All of the credit goes to my offensive line. They opened some great holes for me.
“All I had to go was get through them and fight for as much yardage as I could.”
Injuries to starting running backs Devin Wills and Darius Cooley opened the door for Clay to see his first extensive playing time of the season.
Mascoutah coach Josh Lee was ecstatic to see his team improve to 2-2 and 1-0 in Mississippi Valley Conference play.
“We’re probably three or four plays away from being undefeated, and that’s not making excuses,” said Lee. “We knew this was a must-win game, and we’re very excited about it.”
A pair of Dylan Vigalsky touchdowns helped Waterloo (1-3, 0-1) make a game of it in the second half.
The senior running back capped the Bulldogs’ first possession of the third quarter with a 2-yard run. He later made a diving grab of a Baker pass in the end zone to pull Waterloo within 24-19 with around 10 minutes to go.
But Mascoutah answered that with its only scoring drive of the second half.
Quarterback Jeff Getchell and receiver TreShaun Buckingham came up with the big play, combining on a diving 37-yard pass-and-catch on a third-and-1 play that set them up at the Waterloo 7-yard line.
Two plays later, Cooley found the end zone on a 2-yard run for what was the game-clinching touchdown.
“We were beat to smithereens out there in the second half,” said Lee, whose team had a number of sophomores on the field in the second half. “TreShaun came up limping up to the line there and made that huge catch. Darrius got in for that one carry, but he got it in the end zone.
“It just shows the grit of our seniors and the leadership of the team.”
Waterloo coach Dan Rose pointed at the first half as his team’s downfall. The Indians limited the Bulldogs to 57 yards of total offense in the first 24 minutes.
Mascoutah also built that 24-6 lead despite turning the ball over three times in the first half.
“They beat us in the first half. That’s it,” said Rose. “We didn’t do some things we were supposed to, and that’s the end.”
Mascoutah’s Getchell completed 8 of 10 passes for 68 yards. Sophomore Andrew Schultz had 10 carries for 36 yards, picking up some key first downs late to help run out the clock.
Vigalsky rushed for 56 yards to lead Waterloo. Senior Jake O’Daniell added 46.
Baker completed 4 of 12 passes for 42 yards.