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Running back John Whitworth of the Eagles hauls the rock Saturday against the Green Wave.
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Civic Memorial's Caleb Buhs looks to pull in a touchdown catch in the first half Saturday vs. Mattoon at home.
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CM defensive lineman Travis Pfeifer chases after Mattoon quarterback Braden Smith in the first half on Saturday.
BETHALTO — Mother Nature couldn't ground the soaring Civic Memorial Eagles.
After suffering through a weather delay from Friday to Saturday, the Eagles continued their dominance so far in 2014, defeating the visiting Mattoon Green Wave 48-16. CM defeated Marquette Catholic 49-7 in Week 1. It's the first time the Eagles have gone 2-0 to start a season since 2005 when Rick Reinhart was still the head coach.
“It's been a long time since we've been 2-0,” CM head coach Justin Winslow said. “We told the kids that. Last year we should have been 2-0 and Centralia made some plays and we lost an onside kick late. We were up 10 points with two minutes to go and we ended up losing. We talked about that all week. This Week 2 could really make the difference between us making the playoffs and not making the playoffs and we said that about Week 1 and we'll say that about Week 3. Going into today, no one in the Mississippi Valley Conference had lost and once we get into league week in and week out it's going to be tough. You don't know what's going to happen.”
After grabbing a 7-2 lead on Friday before play was suspended due to lightning with 7:08 to play in the first quarter, things didn't start so well for the Eagles on Saturday.
Mattoon had possession to restart the game, but a fumble by Green Wave quarterback Braden Smith was recovered by David Lane of CM. Doni Vejseli forced the fumble.
The Eagles couldn't get it going on offense though and were forced to punt. On Mattoon's second play, Braden Smith connected with Michael Smith on an 82-yard touchdown strike. Zachary Lensink's extra point put the Green Wave ahead 9-7 with 4:22 left in the first quarter.
Things snowballed from there as CM fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Mattoon's Germaine Armstrong scooped it up and raced in from 31 yards out. The kick was good and like that with 4:05 to go in the opening quarter the Eagles found themselves facing a 16-7 deficit.
“We told them coming out of the gate it was going to be kind of a weird day,” Winslow said. “Everybody's out of routine. We told them, 'These first couple of series aren't going to make what this game is. We're going to play three more quarters, there are going to be a ton more plays and we're going to make a lot of them.'”
And that's exactly what happened. Mattoon failed to find the end zone again and the Eagles responded with 41 unanswered points.
On CM's next possession it marched 70 yards on nine plays, capped by Adam Hill finding Brendon Ricci on a 1-yard passing TD with 1:08 to go in the first quarter. Devin Daniels' kick was good for to draw the Eagles within 16-14.
Dylan Sutton steered CM in the right direction by picking off Smith on Mattoon's next possession. Junior John Whitworth capitalized on it, plunging in from two yards out at the 10:24 mark of the second quarter. Daniels' kick made it 21-16 in favor of the Eagles.
They would extend their lead before the break when Hill threw a 16-yard TD pass to 6-foot-6 senior wide receiver Caleb Buhs. The extra point attempt failed, but with 1:08 left in the half, CM was up 27-16. That's where it would stand entering the locker room.
“I think our guys did a great job responding after some adversity,” Winslow said. “We could have really put our heads down after we had that turnover on the kick return, but we responded. We didn't let the snowball effect happen and I couldn't be more proud of my kids and the way they played today in kind of an odd atmosphere.”
Hill added, “We really got on a roll and got the momentum going and I think we really stepped it up. I think everybody got so pumped and everybody got the momentum going and everybody was in the zone and the younger guys really stepped it up today, too.”
The Eagles kept pouring it in in the second half. They opened the half with possession and after Hill found Brett Lane on a 50-yard connection, tossed a 2-yard TD to Ricci at the 9:59 mark of the third quarter. The extra point ballooned it to 34-16.
The CM defense got in the mix on the next two Mattoon possessions. Rikki Lafferty intercepted a Smith pass and then Nick Newell made a nifty diving snare to pick off Smith on a deflected ball that was up for grabs.
The offense got reinvigorated early in the fourth quarter, getting back on the board when Daniels punched it in on a 1-yard score at the 10:01 mark. Daniels then got up and kicked the extra point to up it to 41-16.
Klocke put the finishing touches on the game, darting in for a 4-yard score with 1:49 to go in the game. Daniels' kick was good to raise it to 48-16.
It was the second TD of the game for Klocke, the first came on Friday night on a 1-yard run at 10:13 of the first quarter. Klocke credited the work of the CM O-line for his success.
“I've got to give it to the front line,” Klocke said. “They did a great job today.
“It's a great feeling, but I have to give it to everybody else. They did their work and I can't do what I did without them doing their work.”
Altogether the offense was clicking with Hill tossing three TDs and Klocke, Whitworth and Daniels combining for the four scores on the ground.
“I thought we got better from Marquette to Mattoon and I hope we're going to make the same steps from Mattoon to Effingham,” Winslow said. “Adam's doing a good job and I really like how our O-line is playing. We don't have anybody going both ways and I think that's really helped us early on. We've got O-line guys that are rested and coming in and playing hard.”
The Eagles weren't too shabby on defense either. They forced and recovered a fumble, picked off Smith four times, with David Lane getting an interception on Friday, and sacked him two more times. Zach Williams and Sutton were credited with sacks.
They are aggressive on defense and with that are susceptible to big plays at times, like the early 82-yard TD strike by the Green Wave, but Winslow is fine with that. He loves the aggression and thinks that defines who the Eagles are as a team.
“I think that's what we are defensively,” Winslow said. “We're not real big, but we're fast. We're going to give up some plays, but we're going to make some plays too. We have a new defense this year. We went from a 3-4 to kind of an even front and that's what we've kind of instilled. Offensively we feel like we're going to score some points so we can give up a couple of big plays. We want to stay aggressive with nobody going both ways, we want to get after it and if you beat us on a big play we're going to play again.”
The Eagles now hit the road in Week 3 for the first time, traveling to Effingham at 7 p.m. on Friday.
CIVIC MEMORIAL 48, MATTOON 16
CM 14 13 7 14 — 48
Mattoon 16 0 0 0 — 16
CM — Z. Klocke 1 run (Daniels kick) 10:13
M — Vieth safety 7:23
M — M. Smith 82 pass from B. Smith (Lensink kick) 4:22
M — Armstrong 31 fumble recovery (Lensink kick) 4:05
CM — Ricci 1 pass from Hill (Daniels kick) 1:08
CM — Whitworth 2 run (Daniels kick) 10:24
CM — Buhs 16 pass from Hill (kick failed) 1:02
CM — Ricci 2 pass from Hill (Daniels kick) 9:59
CM — Daniels 1 run (Daniels kick) 10:01
CM — Z. Klocke 4 run (Daniels kick) 1:49