GRANITE CITY – The Collinsville Kahoks had a happy 20-minute bus ride back to Collinsville on Friday.
The Kahoks celebrated their first victory of the season and ended a nine-game losing streak with a 33-7 win over the Granite City Warriors. Collinsville’s last win was a 28-27 victory over the Warriors last year at Granite City.
"It means a lot to me because I really love these kids and I've been through this situation four other times," first-year Collinsville coach Rick Reinhart said. "It takes time. But I know we're doing the right things and I've been through this before and I know we're going to get it changed around. But it's going to take time."
Granite City dropped to 2-3 overall and 0-3 in Southwestern Conference play. The Warriors lost their 15th straight conference game. Their last league win was in 2013, when they beat Collinsville.
The Warriors will travel to O'Fallon next week to play the Panthers, who also picked up their first win of the season on Friday after cruising to a 42-7 win over Alton.
"These kids are going to work out hard this week and we've got to keep playing football and have fun playing football," Granite City coach Carl Luehmann said. "That's all we can ask. These kids are doing that. I'm proud of what they do."
The Kahoks will play Alton (0-5 overall, 0-3 in conference play) at home next week.
Collinsville (1-4 overall, 1-3 in conference play) started its season with a pair of close losses to Althoff and Triad. Then, the Kahoks lost their first two conference games to Edwardsville and Belleville West by an average margin of 31 points.
After trailing 7-0 early in the first quarter to Granite City on Friday, the Kahoks scored 33 unanswered points to give Reinhart his first win as Collinsville head coach.
"I think it was a huge thing to answer the bell after they went down and scored on us," Reinhart said. "Our defense has played pretty well all year and this was no doubt our best offensive outing of the year. We scored when we got down close in the red zone and it was a huge win for us."
Senior Max Lyons scored three touchdowns for the Kahoks, giving him eight for the season.
"We knew he was going to be a good player coming in," Luehmann said. "He showed it tonight."
Lyons scored a three-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 26 seconds left in the first quarter to cut the Warriors' lead to 7-6. With 6:45 remaining in the second, the 205-pound Lyons gave Collinsville a 12-7 lead by scoring a 1-yard touchdown run. He scored his third TD — an eight-yard run with 9:22 left in the third — to increase the Kahoks' lead to 19-7.
The Kahoks added a pair of touchdowns — a six-yard touchdown catch by Laron Johnson and a three-yard touchdown run by Zach Hammel-Brown — in the fourth quarter.
"We made only three big mistakes in that first half," Luehmann said. "We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in that first half and I think in the second half, our depth kind of hurt us with our two-way players and they kind of grinded it out and they kept running the football."
The Warriors scored their only points with 7:24 left in the first quarter, when senior Darrion Flemons caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gabe Jarman that gave Granite City a 7-0 lead. It was his second touchdown of the season.
Jarman finished with 62 yards rushing on 12 carries and was 13 for 27 with 115 yards passing.
"Gabe had a good first half," Luehmann said. "He made some good reads running the football. He made some good passes there. Then, we had to put him out there at outside linebacker. When we needed help out there, he went out and helped us out there. Gabe does what we ask of him and he puts his heart and soul into it."
Junior Earl Green finished with a team-high 11 tackles.
"Earl is capable of doing that," Luehmann said. "He's one of our better tacklers on our team at cornerback. Earl is only a junior and this is his first year out, so he'll get better for us too."