Civic Memorial Eagles
BETHALTO — Leave it to a senior to shine for the Civic Memorial Eagles on Senior Night.
Brayton Williams, a talented two-way senior, scored four touchdowns as the Eagles defeated Jersey, 41-28, in a Mississippi Valley Conference game at Hauser Field on Friday night.
CM, ending a five-game losing streak, improved to 3-5 overall and finished 1-4 in the Valley. Jersey, seeing its three-game winning streak snapped, dropped to 5-3 and 3-2.
“It’s the biggest game I’ve ever had,” said the 6-foot, 170-pound Williams, scoring on runs of 1, 20, 8 and 6 yards. He rushed 12 times for 63 yards and also supplied an interception. Teammate Zach Klocke, another senior, rushed 17 times for 141 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Williams said, “It was our last home game of the season and Senior Night, so we really wanted to win this game. It’s a game I will always remember.”
CM head coach Justin Winslow won’t forget it either. The Eagles trailed 20-7 at one point, then scored 34 consecutive points to put the finishing touches on their victory.
“It’s a big win for us to come in and get against a rival and a great team,” Winslow said. “This was really a good win for the seniors.”
The Eagles withstood a power-packed performance from Jersey quarterback Jake Varble. The 6-4, 207-pound senior, bound for Southern Illinois University Carbondale, passed for 406 yards.
Varble completed 26 of 42 passes, but was intercepted three times. The Panthers also fumbled three times and five of their six turnovers led to scores by the Eagles. Jersey also failed to score when it twice got inside the CM 5.
“They (Eagles) seized the momentum and football is a game of momentum,” Jersey coach Dave Jacobs said. “They brought their best and we didn’t bring our best tonight.”
He noted, “It was a crazy week for us because we had a couple of players out for disciplinary reasons and it affected our running game. We were out of rhythm with some things.”
Early on, the Panthers had some rhythm going. Varble connected with Ethan Ward for a 56-yard touchdown pass at 7:06 of the first quarter to make it 7-0. Then Varble scored on a 1-yard run with 7.6 seconds remaining and it was 13-0.
CM began to find its groove. Quarterback Adam Hill, who completed 14 of 27 aerials for 151 yards and was intercepted twice, hit Brett Lane for a 62-yard touchdown. It came 23 seconds into the second quarter. Lane, a junior, had six receptions for 113 yards.
“Brett did a great job,” Winslow said. “Our Wildcat offense also was a nice little package for us and our defense created some turnovers.”
Varble countered with a 29-yard TD strike to Blake Wittman and Jersey led 20-7 with 9:09 to play in the second quarter. Williams’ first score, a 1-yard run, made it 20-14 with 3:17 remaining in the half.
Then Jersey moved to the CM 4 in the final minute of half, but the Panthers failed to score. The Eagles dodged a bullet and plotted their second-half comeback.
“We had a great defensive stand at the end of the first half,” said Winslow, sensing a momentum shift. “That stop really energized us and gave us a lot of confidence.”
Williams tallied three more times in the next 10 minutes as the Eagles took the lead and shot in front 34-20. Klocke’s long TD with 7:07 remaining made it 41-20 before Varble scored on a 1-yard run with 6:29 to go.
However, CM’s defense stifled Jersey the rest of the way and the Eagles celebrated their first victory in more than a month.
“We knew we had to win a conference game and it’s great for the seniors,” said Williams, also a state-caliber wrestler. "I never thought I'd score four touchdowns in a game."
Williams had three touchdowns overall prior to his breakout game against Jersey. He rushed for more than 100 yards the previous week in a one-point loss at Mascoutah.
Winslow said, “Brayton does a lot of things for us and he’s also our defensive stopper. He really does a great job on defense.”
Elsewhere in the Valley, Highland battered Mascoutah 59-39 to win another conference championship. The Bulldogs improved to 7-1 and 5-0. And Triad hiked its record to 5-3 with a 28-14 win over Waterloo.
CM 41, JERSEY 28
Jersey 13 7 0 8 – 28
CM 0 14 20 7 – 41
J – Ward 56 pass from Varble (Herkert kick), 7:06
J – Varble 1 run (kick failed) :7.6
CM—B. Lane 62 pass from Hill (Daniels kick), 11:37
J – Wittman 29 pass from Varble (Herkert kick), 9:09
CM – B. Williams 1 run (Daniels kick), 3:17
CM – B. Williams 20 run (Daniels kick), 8:53
CM – B. Williams 8 run (kick failed), 5:04
CM – B. Williams 6 run (Daniels kick), :59.9
CM – Klocke 70 run (Daniels kick), 7:07
J – Varble 1 run (Blackorby pass from Varble), 6:29