ST. LOUIS — For the first time since 2011 the Granite City Warriors will take a 2-0 record into Southwestern Conference play in Week 3.
The Warriors reached the two-win mark by edging Riverview Gardens 29-28 in nonconference action Saturday morning in North St. Louis.
After going 1-8 a year ago, to be 2-0 at this juncture of the season instills a ton of confidence in the Warriors.
“Big time,” running back Ron Allen said of the confidence the Warriors own. “We're ready to win more games and get to the playoffs.”
Quarterback Gabe Jarman added, “We're going to keep fighting every game and take it one game at a time, one play at a time and if we keep playing strong we'll win.”
It was Allen and Jarman moving the chains on the ground in the second half that made the difference. GCHS went to the locker room trailing 20-14, but outscored the Rams 15-8 in the second half.
Allen ran in 76 of his game-high 129 rushing yards in the second half, while Jarman picked up 36 of his 72 yards on the ground in the second half, including a touchdown. Allen had a rushing TD in the first half.
A big run by Allen in Granite City's final drive was an exclamation point for the Warriors. In blistering heat, Allen drug multiple Rams' defenders for a first down to keep the clock ticking.
“I pushed myself,” Allen said. “I don't man, I just wanted to win. It was just will.”
GCHS head coach Carl Luehmann gave credit to the line and a refocused effort in the second half.
“I questioned their character at halftime and that showed right there what kind of character Ronald Allen has with that last play to get us a first down to win the game,” Luehmann said. “Ronald had a good game, Gabe had a good game. Our offensive line in the second half was much better. We made some mistakes our first game too. I'm proud with the win.”
It was all the Warriors could do to survive the lively arm of Riverview Gardens quarterback Kyle Noah. Noah finished the game going 16 of 34 through the air for 332 yards, four TDs and an interception. He threw three of his TDs and 270 of his yards in a solid first half though.
“I thought we could have played better and should have executed a little better in the first half,” Luehmann said. “Second half, I challenged the kids at halftime and they responded and we had a 29-28 victory.”
The Warriors started strong, scoring on their first possession of the game. They went 60 yards on six plays, capping it with Jarman finding Eugene Williba for their first of two TD connections in the game at the 4:58 mark of the first quarter. Jarman booted the extra point and GCHS was up 7-0.
Granite City's Tre'mez Norman recovered a Riverview fumble on the next series, but the Warriors couldn't get anything going on offense.
Noah and the Rams got the ball back and he made GCHS pay. He found wide receiver Cory McClendon on a 71-yard TD pitch and catch at the 4:42 mark of the first quarter. The two-point conversion failed, but Riverview cut it to 7-6.
Allen's 34-yard scoring scamper with 2:20 left in the opening quarter, followed by Jarman's kick upped it to 14-6 in favor of the Warriors, but the second quarter belonged to the Rams.
They picked up Jarman to begin a drive that ended in a 12-yard TD strike from Noah to Isaiah Lane at 6:52 to slice it to 14-12. They failed on the two-point try again.
Noah then found Travion Mosby with 3:17 remaining in the half and ran in the two-point conversion to make it 20-14 in favor of the Rams. That's the way it would stay entering the locker room.
“We talked a lot about how the heat was getting to us and how we weren't playing as well as we should,” Jarman said of the halftime discussion. “We all just picked it up and thought about it and we came out with higher intensity (second half) and ready to play.”
A fumble recovery by Granite City's Blake Carmack on Riverview's first play from scrimmage in the second half helped turn the momentum, but it didn't turn into points immediately.
It was a miscue by the Rams that assisted the Warriors on their next score. Pinned deep in their zone, Riverview finally unveiled its punt team and a high snap led to a GCHS safety with 1:46 to go in the third to cut it to 20-16.
The Warriors regained the lead when they got the ball back following the safety. Jarman capped an eight-play, 41-yard drive with a two-yard run at the 10:58 mark of the fourth quarter. A two-point try failed, but it was 22-20 in favor of Granite City.
Jarman connected with Williba again with 8:11 to go and kicked the extra point to make it 29-20.
Noah had one more score in his arm, finding Payne Gales for a 28-yard TD pass and then Cornell Young on the two-point conversion to get it to 29-28, but the Warriors ultimately survived with the win.
Luehmann knows there is work to be done. He wasn't pleased with the amount of big plays allowed by his secondary, but he's still pleased with the 2-0 record entering SWC action in Week 3.
The Warriors play host to Belleville East at 7 p.m. Friday.
“I'm not pleased with some of our defensive back plays, especially in the first half,” Luehmann said. “We need to get after that better in our practice this week, but overall our coaches work our butts off and they need credit for the hard work they put in every week. The kids have to be coached up and do what they're coached to do every week and at times we're not doing that and we have to get better at that.
“We're happy where we're at, 2-0, the kids are happy with the win and we're going to go into next week planning for Belleville East. It's conference time.”
GRANITE CITY 29, RIVERVIEW GARDENS 28
Granite City 14 0 2 13 — 29
Riverview Gardens 6 14 0 8 — 28
GC — Eugene Williba 31 pass Gabe Jarman (Jarman kick), 4:58
RG — Cory McClendon 71 pass from Kyle Noah (2-point failed), 4:42
GC — Ron Allen 34 run (Jarman kick), 2:20
RG — Isaiah Lane 12 pass Noah (2-point failed), 6:52
RG — Travion Mosby 32 pass Noah (Noah run), 3:17
GC — Safety, 1:46
GC — Jarman 2 run (2-point failed), 10:58
GC — Williba 24 pass Jarman (Jarman kick), 8:11
RG — Payne Gales 28 pass Noah (Noah to Cornell Young), 5:27