ALTON — The Marquette Catholic Explorers extended their winning streak to two games on Friday night with a lopsided Prairie State Conference victory over the Metro East Lutheran Knights at Public School Stadium.
The Explorers improve to 5-3 overall and 5-1 in the PSC with the 67-18 win. Marquette's offense has been potent in the last two weeks — tallying 133 points. The Explorers defeated Bunker Hill 66-20 on Oct. 9.
“That program will get better,” Explorer coach Darrell Angleton said on Lutheran. “It will take time for the co-op (with Madison High) to work and I’ll look for some good things from them, but it’s kind of a tough match for us. We can do a couple of different things — we can throw, but we can also run, even though we didn’t do a lot of running today.”
Marquette produced 288 yards of total offense in the first half and held a 53-6 advantage at halftime while Lutheran (0-8, 0-6 PSC) produced just 100 yards. The Explorers ruled the skies, as just 36 yards of offense came from rushing.
Marquette quarterback Trey Aguirre connected on 10 of 12 passes in the first half. The Explorers' offensive line gave Aguirre plenty of time to pass, as the line blew holes in Lutheran’s defense on play after play.
“The offensive line was on today,” Angleton said. “They continued what they did last week. Give him (Aguirre) a little time and we have receivers like Brian Nagy, Jesse Simmons, Jeremy Strebel and Brady McAfee and we’ll score some points.”
The Explorers wasted little time in establishing dominance, as they scored their first touchdown at the 11:21 mark in the first quarter when Aguirre connected with Jesse Simmons in the end zone on a two-yard pass. Simmons scored again on the Explorers' next possession at the 8:57 mark, catching a 6-yard pass from Aguirre, and D’Avion Peebles scored a touchdown at the 6:50 mark on a 37-yard run to give the Explorers a 19-0 advantage.
Simmons struck again at the 5:29 mark in the first quarter, this time catching a 13-yard pass from Aguirre. McAfee scored at the 1:09 mark, catching a 12-yarde Aguirre pass, to make the score 33-0 Explorers. Liam Maher’s extra point gave Marquette a 34-0 lead, a lead it would maintain until the end of the first quarter.
Maher went eight-for-nine on extra points, missing his first extra point of the year. When punting he gave Lutheran a long field by kicking the ball deep in MELHS territory continuously throughout the contest. Maher recorded five touchbacks.
The Explorers continued to build on their lead in the second quarter behind touchdowns from McAfee and Aguirre, a safety recorded at the 3:02 mark and a 40-yard Maher field goal with less than a second on the clock.
Lutheran’s offense worked its’ way into Marquette territory just once in the entire first half when Maulik Allen scored on an 80-yard run into the end zone with no time on the clock.
Marquette used many substitutes in the second half. Lutheran scored at the 4:34 mark in the third quarter, as Jerry Watson ran the ball 49-yards into the end zone to make the score 53-12 Explorers.
But Marquette answered on its next possession with a touchdown at the 2:03 mark when backup quarterback Jayce Maag connected on a 50-yard pass with Kaleb Ware who then scored to make the score 59-12 Explorers.
Lutheran’s Kendall Kennedy scored at the 10:23 mark in the fourth quarter and Marquette's Cameron Rainey scored on a 33-yard run at the 6:58 mark to give the Explorers a 67-18 advantage.
“They’re very experienced and they’re an older team. We’re a younger team,” Lutheran coach Matt Tschudy said. “We have a lot of younger guys on our team, for them to come out and play the varsity game, it’s good to see them keep it up until the end. Win or lose, they get experience and they like playing. The ability to come out here and play was fantastic.”
The Explorers will return to action against Mount Olive next Friday in the conference contest at 7 p.m. on the road. A victory assures a playoff berth for the Explorers, who snapped an eight-year streak of postseason appearances before missing last season.