BETHALTO -- Despite four turnovers and offensive surges from the Civic Memorial Eagles, the Triad Knights walked away with a victory in Friday night’s Mississippi Valley Conference contest at Hauser Field.
The Knights improved to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the league with the 30-21 win, as they secured a playoff berth for the season. The Eagles fell to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the MVC.
“I was proud of our kids’ effort,” CM coach Mike Parmentier said. “I thought they battled. We got down 23-7, and I believe and we came right back to get it down to 23-21. We were right there. The defense was doing a good job. They have a great offense. We had an opportunity to do some things and make some plays. Unfortunately, the ball didn’t bounce our way. It was a tough loss. Hopefully, we’ll learn and get better from it.”
Triad led 23-15 at the end of the third quarter and the Knights drove the ball into Eagle territory in the first minute of the fourth quarter, as Triad had the ball on CM’s 20-yard line.
Then, an illegal shift penalty on the Knights put the ball back five yards and on the next play Eagles’ linebacker Dustin Koonce recovered a Triad fumble. The Eagles would make the Knights pay for the turnover, as they put together a 13-play, 69-yard drive that finished when CM quarterback Brayden Pierce snuck into the end zone on a one-yard run and Triad led by two points (23-21). The Eagles failed on a two-point conversion attempt.
On their next possession, the Knights once again worked their way into CM territory, as they put the ball on the Eagles’ 29-yard line. Once again, Triad committed a turnover, as defensive back Zach Williams recovered a fumble on CM’s 19-yard line. However, Triad’s defense hung tough and the Eagles turned the ball over to the Knights on their own 32-yard line after a fourth-and-five play with 2:12 left.
Five plays later, junior running back Trevor Nott ran the ball into the end zone to give the Knights a 29-21 lead with eight ticks left on the clock. Collin Black’s successful extra point made the score 30-21 Triad.
Nott finished the night with three touchdowns. He helped give the Knights an early boost, as his 88-yard punt return on the first play of the game gave the Knights a 6-0 advantage. The junior said his team entered the contest with a playoff shot in mind.
“We battled and a couple of plays here and there kind of hurt us,” Parmentier said. “Special teams, on the opening play, you can’t do that against a good ball club.”
The Knights went up 9-0 when Black hit a 20-yard field goal with 1:11 left to play in the first quarter.
The Eagles suffered a turnover, a fumble, on the first play of the second quarter, but the turnover would not turn into a momentum booster. The drive would last three plays, as CM defensive lineman Ricci Nathan recovered a Triad fumble on Civic Memorial’s 49-yard line and ran 12 yards to put the ball to Triad’s 37-yard line. On the next play, running back Camryn Gerhardt ran the ball 37 yards into the end zone to cut Triad’s lead to two points, 9-7.
Neither the Knights nor the Eagles would score on their next series. However, Nott scored his second touchdown at the 38-second mark in the second quarter to give the Knights a 16-7 lead.
Knights’ sophomore running back Devin Towns scored the Knights’ first touchdown of the second half at the 4:48 mark in the third quarter. Black’s PAT made the score 23-7 Triad.
CM would quickly bounce back on its next possession that started on its own 29-yard line. Pierce connected with wide receiver Jaquan Adams on a 31-yard pass in the end zone for a touchdown. Just seconds later, Pierce connected with wide receiver David Lane on a two-point conversion to cut the Knights’ lead to 23-16. Next, CM recovered an onside kick but failed on score on the next drive.
“We scored midway through the third quarter and I felt like we didn’t have the ball back until midway through the fourth quarter,” Triad coach Paul Bassler said. “We scrabbled around, put it on the ground and drive it from the field and put it on the ground. I don’t know how many possessions we had in the second half, but it felt like I was sitting there doing nothing the whole time. We had the one touchdown where Devin (Towns) scored and made it 23-7. We kick off to them and they score and then they onside kick and get it back. It was like they had the ball the whole time. I was frustrated. It was nice to come up big when we had to and that goes for both sides of the football.”
The Knights had 14 players suspended for disciplinary reasons in last week’s 24-0 loss to Highland. All of them returned this week.
The Eagles, who will return to action at 7:00 p.m. next Friday with a road game against Taylorville, played without Corey Price on Friday against Triad.