High School Football

Early strikes help East St. Louis get a leg up on Edwardville in conference standings

East St. Louis DeMonta Witherspoon runs the ball against Edwardsville during Friday’s game at Edwardsville High School.
East St. Louis DeMonta Witherspoon runs the ball against Edwardsville during Friday’s game at Edwardsville High School.

The East St. Louis Flyers overcame a slick field on a rainy Friday night at the Edwardsville High School Sports Complex.

Junior running back DeMonta Witherspoon scored on a 15-yard run with just over two minutes gone and sophomore quarterback Tyler Macon added a 27-yard scoring pass to Antonio Johnson a short time later as the Flyers took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. They skated to a 34-21 win over Edwardsville in a Southwestern Conference showdown.

With a heavy rain falling to start the game, the Flyers twice marched down the field before a soaked and stunned Edwardsville crowd.

Edwardsville senior Kendall Abdur-Rahman cut the lead to 14-7 on a 74-yard run later in the quarter, but East St. Louis (2-1, 1-0) added a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 26-7 lead at halftime.

“I really wasn’t surprised how well we handled the rain and the elements tonight. We practice in the rain just for situations like this one tonight. And when the football gets wet, we don’t use a dry one,’’ East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. “Being able to get those two touchdowns early on a night like this really helped our cause.’’

What else helped the Flyers cause was the play of Macon and another stellar effort by the defense. Abdul-Rahman, who is being recruited by several Big 10 and Big 12 schools along with Notre Dame, added an 80-yard run in the second half. But it was Macon who was the dominant quarterback on the field, especially in the first half.

Throwing for over 120 yards in the first two quarters, Macon added a 31-yard scoring pass to Kenneth Cotton, then provided the big play of the first half to put the Flyers in firm control of the football game.

Edwardsville (0-1, 1-2) trailed 20-7 late in the second quarter but a blocked punt gave them a first down inside the Flyers 15-yard line.

Abdul-Rahman then took the ball inside the 5-yard line, but a poor snap from center killed the drive.

Three plays after the exchange of possession, Macon broke loose for an 83-yard scoring run as the Flyers’ lead grew to 26-7

“He still missed a couple of throws, but his development as a quarterback is way ahead,’’ Sunkett said of Macon. “I was a little disappointed though. I thought we could have 28 more points.

“Our defense also did a tremendous job. Their quarterback was the guy we had to contain and I thought we did a good job on him. We wanted to make someone else try to beat us.’’

Edwardsville didn’t quit. The Tigers cut the lead to 34-21 early in the fourth quarter and had the football deep in Flyers throughout the period, but managed only one touchdown against the Flyers physical defensive presence.

“We had some chances, but to be honest about it the difference in the game was on the line of scrimmage. They beat us up front,’’ Tigers coach Matt Martin said,. “I told the team that we couldn’t have played a worse first quarter, but we were still in it late in the game.’’