QUINCY When Quincy Notre Dame came out in a man-to-man defense Saturday, the Althoff Crusaders didn’t need long to make the adjustment.
Everyone had the green light.
Senior quarterback Jordan Augustine threw four of his six touchdown passes in the first half and was 23-for-29 for 326 yards in a dominant 58-21 victory over Quincy Notre Dame that sent Althoff into the Class 4A quarterfinals.
Augustine was 18-of-22 for 244 yards and four TDs in the first half, completing passes to eight different receivers. Keenen Young caught three TD passes on the day and had eight catches for 105 yards, while Augustine also connected twice with Malik Easley and threw another to C.J. Coldon.
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“They shocked us, they came out and played ‘cover zero,’ on us, played man (defense),” Althoff coach Ken Turner said. “It was kind of shocking that they did that, but we were kind of ready for it and these guys adjusted to it. It’s kind of tough to play us man.”
It’s been tough to play 11-0 Althoff, period, all season. But up ahead in the quarterfinals is by far the toughest opponent all season in five-time defending 4A state champ Rochester (10-1), which will travel to Belleville next weekend. Rochester hammered Murphysboro 47-20 Saturday.
Having receiving depth is one thing, but throwing to eight different receivers in one half? Every time he looked downfield, Augustine had more options to pick from than a night at the Golden Corral buffet.
“We’ve got a lot of skill players and everybody can make people miss and make plays,” said Althoff receiver Jordan Goodwin, who had three catches for 59 yards in the first half. “Coach T (Turner) did a good job of sharing the ball and getting it to everybody.”
So did Augustine, who picked apart the Raiders’ defense all afternoon and pushed his passing TD total to 36 this season. He also broke Eric Mertens’ single-season record for passing yards (2,902) and has thrown for 2,962 yards this season.
“We’re just going to keep on doing what we do and take what they give us,” Turner said. “Usually when we’re hitting the passes early, the run opens up, or vice versa. It’s a tribute to the guys. They work hard and get the game plan down, then they follow it.”
Althoff outgained Quincy Notre Dame 362-78 in the first half and racked up 570 yards of total offense Saturday. That included 145 yards rushing by junior Jaylon Bester, who also tacked on a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The Crusaders also had four turnovers, including two interceptions by Melvin Brock and fumble recoveries by Stephon Belt and Andy Tate.
Notre Dame (7-4) hung close for a while, tying it 7-7 early in the first quarter and cutting the Althoff lead to 28-14 early in the second half on Parker Kientzle’s second TD run of the day.
But Althoff’’s quick-strike ability was never more evident than on the game’s next play, when Bester made a high grab to keep the kickoff from reaching the end zone and then blazed a 99-yard trail to the end zone at the other end of the field.
Just like that it was 35-14 and the overwhelmed Raiders had no answers the rest of the day.
“That’s tough and that’s demoralizing, but that’s what he can do to you,” Turner said of Bester.
“They have a lot of great athletes,” QND coach Bill Connell said. “Any time you put the ball in four or five of their kids’ hands they have the ability to do great things. We got the momentum and real quickly they were able to take the momentum back.”
Included in the early Althoff offensive damage was an 11-yard TD pass to Easley and TD passes of 21 and 10 yards to Young.
On the 21-yarder to Young, he went right over the top of Notre Dame defensive back Brian Copley to make the grab before jogging into the end zone.
“It was a fade route,” Young said. “I got (the defender) off the line and the QB threw it a little bit short, so I went back to the ball and made a play.”
Augustine hit Coldon in stride for a 43-yard touchdown pass with 48 seconds remaining in the first half.
A blocked punt by the Raiders’ Nathan Tyrpin led to the only Notre Dame touchdown of the first half, a 2-yard TD run by Kientzle.
One of the few things that slowed Althoff down were 17 penalties for 160 yards. A personal foul negated a 51-yard TD pass to Young on Althoff’s first offensive play and while Turner disputed some of the calls,he also was not pleased with seeing more personal fouls.
“When we’re blocking hard on the edges like that, some weeks they call those holdings and some weeks they don’t,” he said. “I don’t want any personal fouls.”
Notre Dame lost star running back Ben Nord to injury early on. He had a school record and Class 4A playoff record 384 yards and six touchdowns on 42 carries the week before against Harrisburg.
“He got hurt the first play of the game,” Connell said. “He hurt his ankle on the first play and then on the second play hurt his hip. He left series one to get revived for series two, he might have played one other play during the ballgame just to see if he could go.
“No excuses to be made. We fought and continue to fight , but they made more plays than what we did tonight and they win the game.”