ALTON – One number stared rudely back at the Alton Redbirds on a misty Friday night at Public School Stadium.
It was five, as in turnovers. The Redbirds played a gracious game of giveaway. They lost the football five times in handing O’Fallon a 27-0 victory during the Southwestern Conference opener for both teams. The Redbirds are 2-1, as are the Panthers.
“You can’t do that,” AHS coach Jeff Alderman said of the handful of mistakes that led to three of O’Fallon’s four touchdowns. “Our defense didn’t play badly at all, but our offense didn’t help us at all.”
The Panthers proved to be resourceful, even though they only outgained the Redbirds, 163-111. Yet the visitors had no turnovers and pounced on every Alton one – three interceptions and two fumbles.
“Our defense set the tone,” O’Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst said. “We played hard and it was a big win for us. We treated this game as a ‘must’ win.”
And win the Panthers did. They took advantage of a bad snap on an Alton punt in the first quarter for their first touchdown. Darryl Cobb grabbed the bouncing ball and went the final three yards for a score with 5.7 seconds remaining.
“That was a scoop and score play,” Joggerst said. “We stressed this week that we wanted to create turnovers because we were without our starting quarterback (Camden Bauer) and running back (Kentrail Moran). “
Both are idled by shoulder injuries and Joggerst isn’t certain when they will return.
“It’s day-to-day,” he said.
Nevertheless, O’Fallon didn’t blink. Christian Selsor’s interception and return to the Alton 27 set up Marques Cooper’s 5-yard TD with 1:37 to go in the first half.
Wide receiver Klayton Gettis, subbing for the injured Bauer at QB, scored on a 3-yard run at 5:40 of the third quarter to make it 20-0. Overall, Gettis ran for 45 yards and passed for 60 yards.
“Gettis is a good athlete and he did a commendable job,” Alderman noted.
Following Gettis’ score, Dontae Johnson returned an intercepted pass 65 yards for a score. The Redbirds trailed by four touchdowns with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter and could never recover.
Alderman said, “Credit O’Fallon. The game was played mostly at their end of the field. We tried to establish something on offense and make something, but we couldn’t do it. Those turnovers were very frustrating.
“Hats off to O’Fallon’s defense.”
AHS quarterback Lavonte Hobbs, Dalton Hamberg and Keenan Stegall completed only 1 of 13 passes for 22 yards. Justus Pedrero rushed for 44 yards, but the Birds couldn’t dent the Panthers’ defense. They reached the O’Fallon 27 in the first quarter, but got no closer.
Next up for Alton is a game at Edwardsville, which is scheduled to visit East St. Louis on Saturday afternoon in a key SWC affair. The remainder of the Redbirds’ slate is against conference teams.
They’ll have to beat at least three of them if they want to qualify for the IHSA playoffs. Alton’s loss means that none of the SWC teams are undefeated three weeks into the season.
“We’ll get to the film room, see what we did and how we can get better,” Alderman said. “We’re going to hang together as a team and get ready for Edwardsville.”
O’FALLON 27, ALTON 0
O’Fallon 7 7 13 0 – 27
Alton 0 0 0 0 – 0
O – Cobb 3 run with fumble (McCann kick), :5.7
O – Cooper 5 run (McCann kick), 1:37
O – Gettis 3 run (kick failed), 5:40
O – Johnson 65 run with intercepted pass (McCann kick), 1:43