JERSEYVILLE — Friday night proved to be an outrageous success for the Civic Memorial Eagles.
The Eagles ran roughshod over Mississippi Valley Conference rival Jersey 42-6 in Jerseyville, running their record to 4-0. That's their best mark since starting out 5-0 in 2001.
And on top of all that head coach Justin Winslow was awarded the St. Louis Rams Coach of the Week Award, earning the CM football program a $1,000 grant and a Shadowman Sports Pro Tackle dummy system. The Eagles and Panthers had been named the St. Louis Rams Game of the Week.
It was a big night for CM and one that got a fast start. The Eagles led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, 27-0 at half and eventually 42-0 before allowing a late score to the Panthers.
“We wanted to get a fast start and we've kind of had that philosophy all year,” Winslow said. “We won the toss and we took the ball and we feel like if we can get up on people and make them throw the ball we feel we're pretty good in the secondary, so taking the ball and getting up is a good thing for us.”
Beating their rival with such a lopsided score was good for the Eagles too according to quarterback Adam Hill, who was 15 of 24 for 202 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
“It was awesome,” Hill said. “We had a big fan section and everybody has been talking about it at school and definitely coming into conference play being 4-0, that will definitely help us out.”
CM struck gold on its first drive Friday, capping an 11-play, 56-yard drive with backup signal caller Corey Price coming in and diving over the top for a 1-yard plunge on fourth-and-1 at the 7:42 mark of the first quarter. The extra point attempt failed, making it 6-0 CM.
The Eagles then forced the Panthers into a three-and-out and scored on their next possession. This time it was a 12-play, 59-yard drive finished by Hill finding Brenden Ricci on an eight-yard strike. Hill then hit David Lane to complete the two-point conversion and make it 14-0 with 1:32 to go in the first quarter.
Hill was happy to get the passing game going for CM. He doesn't feel it's been clicking in the first few weeks like it can.
“I don't think my passing game this season has been up to par according to my perspective,” Hill said. “I think it worked well this game and I've got to give it up to my offensive line. They were putting in work for me and I think I played well this game.”
The defense had Hill's back, too. He threw his only pick of the game early in the second quarter, but on the very next play David Lane intercepted Jersey quarterback Drew Sauerwein and returned it 34 yards. It set up a five-play, 41-yard drive finished off when Hill hit Brett Lane for a 15-yard connection with 8:19 to go in the second quarter. Colin Hall booted the extra point, making it 21-0 in the Eagles' favor.
David Lane's pick was the first of three for CM. Price intercepted Sauerwein to close the first half and Nick Newell had a second-half pick, too. Colin Flaherty picked up a sack for an Eagles' defense that did a good job of getting pressure in the backfield also.
“The defense, it was awesome,” Hill said. “At one point I went three-and-out and they got a pick and that really picked me up when I came back in. I was on the sideline getting down on myself.”
Winslow added of the defense, “Both of our inside linebackers were out with injuries all week and they came tonight and played. (Dylan) Sutton had a bruised tailbone and (Zach) Williams had a calf injury, but they came and played tonight. (Trainer) Aaron Suessen did a great job getting those guys ready to play.”
CM got a three-yard run around the right end by running back John Whitworth to close out their first-half scoring and hand the Eagles a 27-0 lead entering the break.
In the second half, Hill found Brett Lane on their second TD connection and Whitworth rumbled in on a 23-yard score, putting the Eagles up 42-0 and starting a running clock with 11:47 to play in the game.
The Panthers finally found the end zone with 8:05 left. Sauerwein cruised in from 31 yards out after an illegal block had erased a long score for Jersey.
Whitworth rushed for 132 yards on 22 carries and a pair of scores, while Brett Lane led the receiving corps for CM with six catches for 116 yards and two scores. Ricci had five grabs for 49 yards and a score, while David Lane caught two balls for 33 yards and Tim Klocke had a pair of snares for 24 yards.
Winslow knew the Panthers had been susceptible to the run entering Friday, but thought the passing game of the Eagles could get going, too. They proved the offense was running on all cylinders.
“Last week we struggled throwing the ball and I don't know why,” Winslow said. “We just wanted to come out and be us tonight. We threw the ball to a lot of guys, but Whitworth still had over 100 yards. We still ran the ball, but we wanted to be balanced tonight and play a little faster than we did last week.”
Next up for the Eagles is Mascoutah at home.
Hill said he hopes Friday put the MVC on notice that CM is for real.
“It's a statement for all the other teams in the conference, because I think we have a pretty good chance at winning conference,” Hill said. “I think it's going to be a fun year.”