BETHALTO – John Whitworth ran wild Friday night at Hauser Field and the Civic Memorial Eagles celebrated their best start in 10 years.
Whitworth tallied four touchdowns to direct the Eagles past Effingham, 47-14 in a nonconference football game. CM improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2005. Effingham dropped to 1-2.
“They have a nice team, a talented group of players and he (Whitworth) is a talented player,” Effingham coach Brett Hefner said.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Whitworth, a two-way senior, accounted for more than 300 yards in the Eagles’ lopsided victory. He rushed 17 times for 194 yards and scored on runs of 8, 61 and 14 yards. Whitworth also returned a punt 66 yards for a score and caught four passes for 18 yards.
He proved to be a one-man wrecking crew.
“It’s the first time I’ve scored four touchdowns in a varsity game,” Whitworth said. “I think this game was our most satisfying win so far because it’s the first time we have been 3-0 in a long time.”
His second and third TDs, coming 94 seconds apart in the second quarter, pushed CM in front 21-7 and the Eagles never looked back. They scored in every quarter and have amassed 138 points, an average of 36 ppg, thus far this season. CM opens Mississippi Valley Conference play next Friday at 0-3 Jersey, which fell to Salem, 36-35 on Friday.
“Any time you can be 3-0 going into your first Valley game, you are excited about it,” CM coach Justin Winslow said. “There’s a lot of excitement around here and it should be with what we are doing.
“But we haven’t reached our potential yet.”
Whitworth added, “I have a ton of confidence in our team and we want to continue setting more standards. Hopefully, we can get into the playoffs.”
Quarterback Adam Hill contributed to the Eagles’ fun by completing 15 of 33 passes for 143 yards. Corey Price logged scoring runs of 1 and 21 yards. And Zach Williams tacked on a 14-yard TD. Colin Hall converted five PAT kicks.
“I can pick up Adam and he can pick me up,” Whitworth said of the Eagles’ diversified offense.
Winslow noted, “John Whitworth does a great job for us and that has opened up our passing. He’s a very good player and he can do a lot of things.”
Hefner said that the Eagles possess a potent attack. “They do a nice job of running what they want to do,” he said. “We turned the ball over too much and that has hurt us the first three games — making those turnovers at inopportune times.”
Effingham bobbled the ensuing kickoff following Whitworth’s punt return for a score. Nick Newell came up with the fumble at the Flaming Hearts’ 23 and Whitworth scored again four plays later. CM led 21-7 at half and 27-7 less than two minutes into the third quarter. Whitworth’s 61-yard touchdown, providing the Eagles with a 20-point advantage, gave him three scores in just over six minutes.
Hudson Graham, the Flaming Hearts’ quarterback, completed 11 of 18 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns, yet David Lane picked off one of his passes. The Eagles allowed their fewest points of the season and their offense accounted for nearly 450 yards. They had things going their way on both sides of the ball.
“I like our offense and we are a more balanced team that we were last season,” Winslow said. “We can do different things because of John and Adam. John has speed and he’s a powerful, physical kid.”
Whitworth just wants to extend his production in Valley play the next five games. “I know there are a lot of good teams out there in the conference,” he said.
As for Winslow, he’s eager to see how the Eagles match up in the six-team MVC.
“It’s going to be interesting in the Valley,” he said.
CM 47, EFFINGHAM 14
Effingham 0 7 7 0 — 14
CM 7 14 12 14 — 47
CM – Corey Price 1 run (Colin Hall kick), 1:22
E – Joe Nieman 11 pass from Hudson Graham (Sean Zerrusen kick), 10:27
CM – John Whitworth 66 punt return (Hall kick), 4:36
CM – Whitworth 8 run (Hall kick), 3:02
CM – Whitworth 61 run (kick failed), 10:15
E – Blake White 23 pass from Graham (Zerrusen kick), 3:51
CM – Whitworth 14 run (run failed), 1:38
CM – Zach Williams 14 run (Hall kick), 6:52
CM – Price 21 run (Hall kick), 2:28