ALTON – Jesse Simmons, Trey Aguirre and Brady McAfee provided the punch to celebrate Marquette Catholic High’s homecoming football victory Saturday.
Simmons caught two touchdown passes from Aguirre and McAfee ran for two more as the Explorers defeated East Alton-Wood River, 38-6, at Public School Stadium.
Marquette, winning its third in succession, improved to 3-2 overall and 3-0 in the Prairie State Conference. The Explorers built a 31-0 halftime advantage on their way to a ninth consecutive win over league rival. EA-WR fell to 0-5 and 0-3.
“We have a lot of tools and different ways to attack opponents,” first-year Explorers’ coach Darrell Angleton said.
Simmons, a 5-foot-8, 150-pound senior receiver; Aguirre, a 6-1, 170 senior quarterback and McAfee, a 6-1, 190 junior running back, are three of those prized weapons.
Aguirre completed 14 of 24 passes for 168 yards and TD strikes of 30 and 32 yards to Simmons, who snared eight passes for 106 yards. McAfee rushed 12 times for 101 yards and scored on runs of 3 and 51 runs. Teammate D’Avion Peebles added a 10-yard score and kicker Liam Maher booted a 47-yard field goal and five extra points.
EA-WR quarterback Luke Wells scored on a 5-yarder during the game’s final play to help the Oilers avert a shutout. Injuries to linebacker Blake Stone (broken right leg) and starting QB Justin Englar (neck bruise), plus two lost fumbles and two bad snaps on punts frustrated the Oilers. Overall, they fumbled eight times.
“It’s an ongoing process every week. We never gave up,” EA-WR coach Garry Herron said. “And I think our defense played well, but we made too many mistakes on offense. We have to execute better with our offense because the defense was on the field for too long.
“We gave them good field position too many times.”
In the first half, for example, Marquette started scoring drives from the EA-WR 22, 21 and 3. Two other ones began near midfield. The Explorers tallied their first two TDs in a 56-second span.
Then there was Simmons. He gave the Oilers fits. Simmons had five catches, including a touchdown, in the second half.
“He’s a tough matchup for anyone,” Herron said. “He plays his position well and has a knack for the ball.”
Angleton added, “Jesse is just a good receiver and Trey had another good game. There’s an advantage to our offense because there are reads built into it and Trey can make verbal audibles.”
Simmons said, “It’s probably the best game I’ve had. When their (Oilers’) defense came up on me, I went deep and when they laid off me, I took a short route.”
Aguirre knew when and where to find him and that was by design, not accident.
“We’ve been playing together since we were young and we have become best friends,” Aguirre said.
McAfee’s hard running supplied another element to the diversified Marquette attack.
“That was my best offensively game this year,” McAfee said. “I have to give a lot of credit to the offensive line for it.”
Running backs Zach Womack and Chandler Eckhoff gave the Oilers a boost and hope for their future. EA-WR plays next Friday at 0-5 Metro East Lutheran in another conference contest.
Womack, a 5-11, 155 sophomore, rushed 13 times for 83 yards, including a 44-yarder in the third quarter. Eckhoff, a 5-5, 140 junior, snagged a 21-yard pass from Wells to key the Oilers’ late score.
“He came in and gave us some energy,” Herron said of Eckhoff. “He’s not tall, but he comes in and plays hard.”
Sam Stemm and Brian Nagy gave the Explorers that same kind of vigor on defense. Both recovered fumbles. Stemm’s set up Peebles’ touchdown and Nagy’s preceded Maher’s long field goal.
Next up for Marquette is 4-1 Pawnee. The Indians welcome the Explorers at 1 p.m. next Saturday in a game that could decide the Prairie championship.
“It’s our biggest game of the year,” Angleton said.
PRAIRIE STATE CONFERENCE
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 38, EA-WR 6
EA-WR 0 0 0 6 – 6
Marquette 14 17 7 0 – 38
M – D’Avion Peebles 10 run (Liam Maher kick), 4:56
M – Brady McAfee 3 run (Maher kick), 4:00
M – McAfee 51 run (Maher kick), 11:43
M – FG Maher 47
M – Simmons 30 pass from Aguirre (Maher kick), 3:23
M – Simmons 32 pass from Aguirre (Maher kick), 6:46
EA-WR – Luke Wells 5 run (final play, no extra point attempt), :00