By Anthony Jones
After a mostly quiet first half, things started to get interesting in last Friday’s matchup between the undefeated Collinsville Kahoks and Triad Knights. Following a Kahok turnover on downs at the Triad 32 yard line, the Knights had marched down field and were set up with a second and three from the Kahok 14 yard line.
Then with two and a half minutes left in the half, a critical false start pushed Triad’s offense back and stifled their momentum. They would only gain one yard for the rest of their drive, forcing them to attempt a thirty six yard field goal. Jake Ellis’s attempt had plenty of leg, but missed wide left to hand the ball back over to the Kahoks.
Collinsville was quickly faced with a third and one from their own 29 yard line. They elected to hand the ball off to Jerry Richardson who was quickly swarmed in the backfield, but with a quick spin move the running back found himself 16 yards up field.
Not long after, the Kahoks were faced with another critical third down, this time needing to pick up fifteen yards. Quarterback Kolby Anderson dropped back to pass and found an open Jeremiah Mosby who made a great leaping catch to set up his team at the Triad 7 yard line.
After two quick incomplete passes, the Kahoks brought Andrew Chi out onto the field to attempt a 24 yard field goal. Despite kicking into the wind and having to wait through a timeout, Chi’s kick was good and gave his squad a 3-0 advantage.
Collinsville Head Coach Colton Rhodes said after the game on having a kicker he can rely on, “Having a former soccer player in Andrew Chi come out and kick for us has made us a complete team. Offensively, we were struggling when we got the ball in the red zone, so thankfully we have a kicker we can trust to trot out there and hit a field goal to give us some momentum going into halftime.”
With 1.6 seconds left on the clock, the half was still not over. Following a short squib kick, Triad’s Roger Wolf quickly found his way to the sideline and was racing down the sideline. Then at the Kahok 25 yard line, the Kahok’s last line of defense Travion Swygeart saved the day and knocked Wolf out of bounds after time had expired.
Not long into the second half, the Knights would get a much needed spark as linebacker Sam Wheeler recovered a Kahok fumble at the Collinsville 21 yard line. Another big play would come in short order as quarterback Nic Funk would pick up a fourth and two on the ground to set Triad up at the Kahok 10 yard line.
A few plays later, the Knights would advance the ball to the Kahok one yard line. But the Collinsville defense wasn’t ready to let them score just yet.
After four plays of slowly inching forward, sophomore halfback finally punched the ball into the endzone for the Knights to give them their first lead of the game. Ellis would then tack on the point after try to put the Knights up 7-3 late in the third quarter.
Knowing they needed a score, the Kahoks offense went back to work with some more third down magic. The first big third down came as Collinsville needed to pick up 15 yards as they were backed up to their own 26 yard line. Swygeart found open space and snagged a pass that he took all the way to the Triad 42 yard line.
As the drive stretched into the final quarter of action, the Kahoks were faced with a fourth and four from the Knight’s 36 yard line. Anderson once again found an open man when he needed to, connecting with Darren Pennell who broke a tackle and ran down to the 21 yard line.
Another fourth down was presented to the Kahoks shortly after, this time with seven yards to go. Going back to Pennell, Anderson overthrew his receiver as the ball fell incomplete. But a pass interference call on Triad kept the drive alive as it gave Collinsville a fresh set of downs.
The final third down the Kahoks faced on the drive was from the Triad one yard line. Keeping the ball in Anderson’s hand, Collinsville finally found pay dirt on their fourth trip to the end zone. Chi converted the extra point to put his team up 10-7.
Triad responded on their following drive as they marched down the field. But with inside of two minutes to play, they were faced with a fourth and eight from their opponent’s 25 yard line. Funk dropped back to pass and heaved the ball to Wolf in the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete as the Knights turned the ball over on downs.
Triad still clung to life with three times out left and around 90 seconds left to play, if they could get a three and out. But Richardson stepped up to the plate once again for the Kahoks and picked up a game sealing first down to help his team wrap up the 10-7 victory.
Triad Head Coach Pual Bassler reflected on the game afterwards, “It was a hard fought game, it came down to like a couple plays. We made too many mistakes and it cost us.”
Bassler also commented on his defense that allowed only one touchdown off of four trips to the red zone,“They are very athletic and explosive and we kept them under wraps other than a couple plays.”
Next week, Triad travels to take on the Mount Vernon Rams. Coming off a 47-12 loss to Mascoutah and a week one loss to Taylorville at 13-0, the Rams will enter with an 0-2 record.
“That’s a long trip there, about an hour. We’ve played pretty well there and I expect us to be pretty hungry going into that game” Bassler said of the upcoming matchup.
Collinsville’s Rhodes said of his team’s defensive efforts in the 10-7 victory, “Our defense played outstanding all game long. We had to make one in-game adjustment in the first half when they started to gash us, but once made that adjustment mid drive, we slowed them down quite a bit. Our team did a great job following their assignments and making the 1 on 1 tackle when it was their turn.”
The Kahoks will go on the road next week to take on a winless Alton squad. Despite entering with an 0-2 record, the Redbirds have played well so far this year as they have lost close games 27-20 and 22-13, to Quincy and Althoff respectively.
“Alton is going to be another tough matchup for us. I know their record says they are 0-2, but we know they will still be tough to stop for our defense. Offensively we won’t change a whole lot for the game, but we have to execute better, especially when we get the ball in the red zone,” the Kahoks said of their upcoming matchup.