Exhausted, battered and bruised, East St. Louis junior Jarrell Anderson took one for the team on Saturday at Clyde Jordan Stadium.
And the Flyers snatched away a win from the Christian Brothers College High School Cadets.
Anderson scored on a 10-yard run with 20 seconds remaining to provide the difference as East St. Louis stunned CBC 32-28 before a crowd of 8,000 fans at the Gateway Scholars Football Classic.
Anderson, who finished the night with 258 yards and four touchdowns on a remarkable 43 carries had suffered an ankle sprain just seconds earlier, but re-entered the game to make a key first down with 37 seconds remaining.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
On the very next play, Anderson, on his 43rd and final carry, went in for the touchdown as the partisan Flyers crowd showed its delight.
“I was hurting. But my team needed me in the game. I had to take one for the team,” Anderson said. “I’m just tired. But I’m happy. We weren’t going to lose this game. We weren’t going to let that happen.”
Ranked second in the Class 7A Illinois state poll, the Flyers improve to 2-0 for the season. CBC, which got three touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert, fell to 2-1.
CBC, which trailed 16-7 at halftime, used a bit razzle dazzle to get back in the game in the third quarter. A 60-yard halfback option play from Tyler Walton to Kamryn Babb with 8:01 left in the third quarter brought the Cadets to within two points at 16-14.
Four minutes later, Gabbert fired a 5-yard scoring pass to Babb, to give CBC its first lead of the second half at 22-16.
But the Flyers refused to quit. Quarterback Reyondous Estes took the Flyers down the field and when Anderson scored, East St. Louis had the 24-22 early in the fourth quarter.
But following an interception by Cameron Brown, senior tailback Justin Williams ran 49 yards on the next play to give CBC its final lead of the night at 28-24 with six minutes left.
But Anderson and Flyers had the final say.
EAST ST. LOUIS FIRST HALF
Winners of the Class 6A state championship in 2014 and entering the Gateway Scholars Football Classic with a 29-1 record in its last 30 games, CBC took advantage of some Flyers miscues in the opening 90 seconds.
Given ideal field position following an 8-yard punt and a personal foul by the Flyers, the Cadets went 29 yards on four plays to take an early 7-0 lead.
Gabbert threw an 11-yard scoring pass to Cameron Brown and with still over 10 minutes left in the opening quarter, the Cadets had a 7-0 lead.
But the final 22 minutes of the opening half was all Flyers.
Taking the ensuing kickoff, the Flyers, getting tremendous push from their big, athletic offensive line, began to dominate. With Anderson, who gained 98 yards on 20 carries, performing brilliantly, East St. Louis marched 80 yards to take the lead.
Anderson went the final two yards with 2:17 left in the first quarter. The two-point conversion was good and East St. Louis had an 8-7 lead.
It was more of the same on the Flyers’ next drive. Anderson wracked up 37 yards on three straight carries as East St. Louis marched inside the 15-yard line where Estes hit Jeff Thomas on a 5-yard scoring play.