By Anthony Jones, Reporter
On Friday evening, Triad’s football team one yet again to become 5-0 on the season and 2-0 in their conference. The win makes them playoff eligible and places them in a tie with Civic Memorial atop the Mississippi Valley Conference. This is the first time since 2015 that Triad has started out with a 5-0 record.
The Knights were out to impress early on in their first home Friday night game of the season. Travis Speer started things off for Triad with a deep kickoff that started Jersey inside their own 20 yard line. After a short drive, the visiting team fumbled the football and the ball was recovered by Triad’s Everett Walsh. Triad’s offense started their drive on their opponents 40 yard line but they were quickly forced to punt the ball back.
Roger Wolf’s punt pinned the visiting team back at their own 20 yard line. Jerseyville failed to advance the ball before they were forced into a punt of their own. This set the home team’s offense up 37 yards away from their opponent’s end zone.
Triad earned their first points of the evening a short time later on an explosive 28 yard rush by Sam Yager. Speer booted the extra point quick between the uprights to earn a 7-0 lead for his squad. Triad’s kicker also booted the ball for a touchback on the ensuing kickoff.
After a small drive, Triad’s defensive unit smothered their opponents yet again to force them to punt. Jersey’s special teams booted the ball to Triad’s 40 yard line, where their drive would start. A handoff to Yager garnered a large chunk of yardage and placed the ball on the visiting squad’s 36 yard line. Shortly afterwards, the first quarter expired.
Despite having entered Panther’s territory, the Knights offense was held to a fourth down and subsequently punted the ball away. The punt by Wolf put the Panthers at their own 26 yard line. Jerseyville’s offense did manage to move the ball down the field some but the home team stood tall again to force a punt.
The Knight’s offensive drive was kickstarted by Amaziah Lusk, who had an impressive rush that put his team at Jersey’s 23 yard line. Luke Foreman topped the drive off two plays later with a 20 yard touchdown rush to the outside. Speer’s trusty leg converted the extra point to put Triad up 14-0. On the following kickoff, he booted the ball deep and the Panthers brought the ball out to their own 24 yard line.
The Panthers offense came out with urgency after falling behind two possessions. This drove them for one of their best possessions of the evening but Triad’s outstanding defense required them to punt yet again. The Triad offense tried to extend their lead but ultimately, the clock ran out on the first half.
After the game break, the Knights brought the half opening kickoff out to their own 29 yard line. Unfortunately for them, they dropped the ball on the ground and Jersey’s Zeke Waltz recovered the ball on Triad’s 30 yard line. Despite starting in poor position, the Triad defense held strong yet again and forced their opponents to punt the ball back to their offense. This punt gave the Knight’s offense the ball back at their own 29 yard line.
Triad’s offense was slowly pushing the ball towards another score, but they were halted by the Jersey defense. Wolf did take advantage of the yards the offense earned however to punt the ball to his opponent’s seven yard line. The Knight’s defense flexed their muscles yet again to make the Panthers punt the ball back. This gave their offense tremendous field position, all the way at their opponent’s 28 yard line.
The Panthers defense stood tall and forced their opponents into a fourth and long. However, Triad elected to go for the first down, which was earned on a pass from Logan Wongler to Anthony LaRue. That set up a Lusk touchdown rush from the 10 yard line. Another Speer conversion put the home team up 21-0 late in the third quarter.
The Panthers managed to return the following kickoff out to their own 30 yard line. They quickly began picking up yardage before they were halted by the end of the third quarter. A few minutes after the direction switch, the visiting offense scored for the first time on the night with a one yard quarterback sneak. A successful point after try made the score 21-7, still in Triad’s favor.
Jerseyville looked to build upon their momentum with an onside kick, but they were thwarted as Nolen McGowen recovers the ball for Triad. The Knight’s offense could not deliver another score but a well placed punt by Wolf pinned Jersey at their own 9 yard line. A long pass quickly removed the Panthers from such compromising position and out to their own 30 yard line. Triad’s Drew Straub ended the drive by intercepting an errant pass, which set the Knights up at Jersey’s 37 yard line.
The home team seized the opportunity given to them by the takeaway and led a methodical march down the field. Triad’s offense managed to run the clock almost out before Lusk scores his second touchdown of the game on a fourth down carry. They converted the extra point to take a 28-7 lead. Jersey’s offense attempted to deliver another score but the Knight’s defense stopped them until the clock expired for the game.
Next week, Triad will travel and play the 3-2 Mascoutah Indians. The Indians sit at 1-1 in conference play thanks to a 3 point win against Highland, followed by a three point loss to Civic Memorial. Players to watch for Mascoutah are Devin Wills(Running Back),Timothy Middleton II(Wide Receiver),and Andrew Schultz (Middle/Outside Linebacker).