MADISON — There were some mixed emotions Saturday afternoon after the Metro East Lutheran Knights lost to the Bunker Hill Minutemen 20-0 at Madison High School.
Metro, which is co-oping with the Trojans this season, competed in the first football game played in Madison since 1992 on Saturday and though it desperately wanted a win, enormous turnout of support was still gratifying.
The Knights dipped to 0-3 with the loss, while Bunker Hill improved to 3-0. The two Prairie State Conference squads met in Week 1 with the Minutemen prevailing 28-0 in Bunker Hill. MELHS head coach Matt Tschudy thought the games were similar but there was vast improvement in his team.
“This was a lot like our first game,” he said. “It was 6-0 for a long time and then the fourth quarter is where it kind of got away from us (today). We went into halftime and looked at some of the stats and their rushing yards were lower and our rushing yards were higher, so we definitely saw some improvements.
“Obviously we're not happy we lost, but we're happy we're seeing improvements and I told the guys that 365 days ago there wouldn't have been anything going on on this field, so just the opportunity to come out here and play is fantastic.”
In the first half alone, Metro had allowed 257 yards of Bunker Hill offense in Week 1, but limited it to 120 yards on Saturday. For the game the Minutemen tallied 297 yards of total offense, but much came late in the contest.
Four fumbles for turnovers and inopportune penalties plagued MELHS in the loss. The Knights had seven penalties for 50 yards in the setback also.
“We told them at the end of the game you take away the turnovers and the penalties and we win this game,” Tschudy said. “We got stopped twice in the red zone because of penalties and that just killed us. We make those two possessions we're up 14-6 and it's a completely different ball game at that point.”
Running back Maulik Allen — a senior at Madison — believes it's getting better, but agreed that more disciplined play is essential for success for the Knights.
“We've got to be disciplined,” Allen said. “If we're not disciplined we won't win football games. We've got to cover up the ball on the run. The fumbles and the penalties are the biggest mistakes.”
But Allen thought getting to play the Minutemen twice in three weeks was a good barometer for where MELHS is headed.
“Only a game in between, there was an advantage and we just wanted to win,” he said. “Obviously we didn't get the win, but we came out and played hard, as hard as we could and did what we were supposed to. We just didn't come up with a W. Next game we have to work harder.”
Bunker Hill found the end zone at the 4:57 mark of the first quarter when Larry Severs squirted in from eight-yards out. The two-point conversion failed, but Metro found itself in a 6-0 hole.
A 48-yard kickoff return by Jerry Watson, Jr. highlighted the first-half play by the Knights, but unfortunately he fumbled at the end of the big run. Watson later picked off Bunker Hill quarterback Storm Coffmann and returned it 47 yards.
The MELHS defense even had a huge fourth down stop on the Minutemen in the red zone at the end of the first half to keep it close.
“The defense right now is doing really well,” Tschudy said. “I think that's the strength of our team right now. We could sure tackle a little harder, but we're continuing to see improvement, which is good.”
The score remained 6-0 through the third quarter, but Bunker Hill was knocking on the door. At 11:56 of the fourth quarter Christian Summers snuck in from five yards out and after DaMonte' Bean of Metro sacked Coffmann on the two-point attempt, the Minutemen led 12-0.
A MELHS fumble setup Bunker Hill for its final score. Summers scampered in for another five-yard score with 6:24 to go and Severs ran in the two-point conversion to complete the 20-0 win.
Allen led the Knights with 66 yards rushing on 17 carries in the game, while quarterback Vince Wilson was 3 of 6 for 12 yards through the air.
Allen and Bean paced the defense with eight tackles apiece.
MELHS now prepares for South Fork on the road in Week 3 in PSC action. Bunker Hill heads to East Alton-Wood River for Week 3 conference play.