Hoping for a perfect ending to their season following 13 straight victories, the Althoff Crusaders watched their state championship hopes vanish on a cool, windy night in DeKalb.
Phillips got 141 yards rushing and four touchdown runs from electrifying senior quarterback Quayvon Skanes and pounded the Crusaders 51-7 on Friday in the Class 4A state championship game at Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Stadium.
It was Althoff’s second straight title game loss after the Crusaders also lost in the 2012 Class 2A state championship. The Crusaders (13-1) won three previous state titles in 1980, 1989 and 1990.
“All season long we’ve had the most fun of our lives,” said Althoff senior quarterback Jordan Augustine, who threw for 204 yards and a touchdown Friday to finish with 3,509 yards and and 41 TDs after coming back from two ACL surgeries. “It’s just not the ending we were waiting for. I know it’s rough, but it’s frustrating that we came all this way and had all this fun and it has to end like this.”
Phillips (14-0), which led 28-7 at halftime, became the first team from the Chicago Public League to win a state championship since the playoffs began 42 years ago. It was the second straight title-game appearance for the Wildcats, who lost 49-28 to Rochester in the 2014 4A championship.
BEGINNING OF THE END
Already down by 21 at halftime, Althoff fumbled the second-half kickoff and Skanes tacked on a 3-yard TD run that pushed the Phillips lead to 35-7. The Crusaders had five turnovers Friday.
Skanes added his fourth TD run of the night to effectively put things out of reach on a 36-yard run early in the second half that included a late fake that left his path to the end zone wide open. He finished with 149 yards and four TDs on only 13 carries, giving the University of Connecticut wide receiver recruit 36 rushing TDs this season.
“With Quayvon there’s been a lot of that this year,” Phillips coach Troy McAllister said of his senior’s combination of speed and elusiveness. “You just kind of smile. (Runs like that) had nothing to do with X’s and O’s, that had nothing to do with coaching.
“That was him. He just does that every once in a while and it’s a pretty amazing to see when he flips that gear and goes to another level.”
Skanes had 141 yards rushing and four TDs on 13 carries and also threw a touchdown pass. Kamari Mosby had a team-high 151 yards on 29 carries. Skanes, headed to Connecticut as a wide receiver, ran for 36 TDs.
Althoff was held to seven points after scoring 621 points in its first 13 games and averaging 47.8 points. Coach Ken Turner’s squad had scored 46 points or more in each of their four playoff wins before Saturday, but the Wildcats dominated both sides of the line to slam the door shut.
Phillips sacked Augustine five times for 42 yards in losses and also forced five turnovers. Althoff ran the ball 18 times for minus-23 yards and was outgained 385-181 in total yardage.
“We thought they had a good D-line coming in but they gave us trouble,” Turner said. “We felt like we could get open, we felt like we could do some things if we gave (Augustine) time, but he didn’t get much time throughout the whole course of the game.
“They beat us up front really on both sides of the ball.”
A strong start by Althoff quickly faded as the first half unfolded thanks to the big plays of Skanes and Phillips’ constant big-play threat.
After having an early TD pass called back on a penalty, Althoff took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a 9-yard TD pass from Augustine to C.J. Coldon.
“We started off hot and we did the things we’d done all year,” Turner said. “It just seemed like it snowballed from there.”
That would prove to be the high-water mark offensively for Althoff. It didn’t take the Wildcats long to tie it as Skanes blew through a huge opening on the line and flew 41 yards into the end zone.
The Crusaders failed to cash in a fourth-down conversion try early in the second quarter and the Wildcats quickly made them pay.
Following a 31-yard run by Mosby, Skanes made his way through traffic for a 31-yard TD run and Phillips led 14-7.
With Althoff unable to generate much offense, Mosby’s 8-yard TD run helped push the Phillips lead to 21-7 with 4:02 remaining in the first half.
Skanes showed he could throw the ball as well, executing a perfect toss to Qadeer Weatherly for a 36-yard TD pass with 1:13 remaining in the first half.
The Crusaders trailed 28-7 at half, easily their biggest deficit all season.
Phillips outgained Althoff 247-90 in the first half and did most of the damage on the ground with 203 yards on 28 carries.
“The first drive we marched right down on them and scored,” Augustine said. “As the game went on the defensive pressure was getting to me, it was a combination of me not getting the ball out quick enough ... we were just getting beat up front.
“I wouldn’t say that they were anything that we couldn’t’ handle at all. It was just a matter of us getting beat up front. We had guys open all night and I wasn’t able to get the ball to them.”
“This was the best football team we played all year, obviously you can tell by the score,” Turner said. “I think they were more physical, Athlete-wise we matched up with them well but up front we couldnt’tmatch up with the (Amir) Watts kid and the (Chris) Elmore kid, the pressure they brought.”
Before Friday, no Chicago Public League team had won a state title.
“This group was special,” McAllister said. “Our goal Week 1 was 1-0, our goal this week was 14-0 and we achieved that. For us to get an undefeated season and win the first state championship in (CPL) history, it hasn’t sunk in yet. But I know 10 years from now when these guys have a reunion it’s going to be pretty special.
“These young men have bought in to what we were trying to accomplish and they achieved a goal that’s never been done before. That’s pretty special.”