It took almost 24 minutes but the Belleville West football team found its groove again in Alton on Friday night.
The Maroons exploded for three touchdowns in a span of 28 seconds to lead 42-7. West added 10 points in the second half and prevailed 52-21 for a Southwestern Conference win over Alton at Alton Public School Stadium.
The night was a crazy one as the game took over three hours to play due to myriad penalties and dropped passes but the Maroons did not let adversity stop them from moving to 4-0 (2-0 in conference).
“Overcome adversity, and that’s what we preach to our guys and they did a good job of that tonight and they competed,” Belleville West coach Cameron Pettus said. “Anytime you can be perfect in Southwest Conference play starting out 4-0, that’s a good thing.”
The Maroons got another solid night out of junior quarterback Jackson McCloskey as he threw for 241 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Wideouts Dominic Lovet and Will Lanxon came up big in the passing game with 133 yards and 84 yards receiving. Lovett had touchdown receptions of 16 and 84 yards.
Lovett’s first scoring catch gave the Maroons a 7-0 lead with 9:22 left in the first quarter. Alton answered with a two-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Jones to Ahmad Sanders to tie it at 7:09 of the first quarter.
Just before the end of the first quarter, McCloskey found Lanxon for a 2-yard scoring pass to give West the lead back at 14-7.
The Maroons settled down defensively in the second quarter, and added a 4-yard touchdown run from running back DJ Johnson to go ahead 21-7 and in the final two minutes, Then West erupted for three scores in 28 seconds.
McCloskey hit Lovett with an 86-yard bomb down the right side for a score and then Jaylan McCray returned an Alton fumble 4 yards for a TD.
On its next series, West finished out the crazy sequence as Lanxon hauled in a 19-yard pass from McCloskey to make it 42-7.
“It took about a quarter to figure out what their defense was doing and after we figured it out, the field just really opened up,” McCloskey said.
Alton (2-2, 1-1) inched closer on a 61-yard scoring strike from Jones to Moory Woods to cut the lead to 42-21 with 6:23 left in the third quarter but that was the last time they would threaten.
Johnson added a fourth-quarter touchdown and hammered the Redbirds defense with the run game. Johnson finished with 173 yards on 35 carries.
“We told him at halftime he was going to have to come back out because we knew they were gonna come after us and after they got some wind we said we got to continue to be physical and run that ball,” Pettus said.
Belleville West returns home to host Granite City next Friday at 7 p.m.
Alton travels to Edwardsville next Friday for a 7 p.m. Southwestern Conference matchup.