COLLINSVILLE – Senior quarterback Kendall Abdur-Rahman went seven-for-seven passing for 137 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore running back Justin Johnson, Jr. ran for 126 yards and a touchdown, all in the first half, as Edwardsville built up a 59-0 lead in the first half in defeating Collinsville 65-13 in both teams regular-season finale Friday night at Kahok Stadium.
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The Tigers end the regular season 6-3, 5-1 in the Southwestern Conference, and officially clinched a spot in the IHSA playoffs, which begin next week. Collinsville finishes at 3-6, 2-4 in the conference.
Edwardsville coach Matt Martin felt his team accomplished what they set out to do in the game: Play hard and execute.
“I just wanted our kids to play hard and execute well, and I think we did,” Martin said.
The Tiger offense was well-balanced and everyone contributed to the win.
“I don’t know what the stats,” Martin said, “I just remember a lot of people touching the ball, a lot of people scoring, so it was a balanced offensive attack, and I thought the defense played well, too. Special teams, I thought (Brendan) Latham kicked the ball well again, especially on kickoffs.”
The defense has come quite a long way this season, and Martin praised them for their efforts.
“Yeah, they’re improving,” Martin said. “I said when Josh Anderson got hurt, it hurt us as a ball club, but you know what? The kids are starting to grow up, and get better. So I’m proud of them.”
The Tigers got their first touchdown on a big 65-yard run by Johnson early in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead after Latham’s conversion, then doubled their lead as Abdur-Rahman threw 23 yards to Dionte Rodgers for the touchdown, making it 14-0 after the conversion. The defense came through in a big way later on, as Norman Harris recovered a fumble and returned it 50 yards for another touchdown to make it 21-0 after Latham’s convert.
In the second quarter, Abdur-Rahman had his only run of the game, going 21 yards into the end zone for another Tiger touchdown, making it 28-0 after the convert. Abdur-Rahman had his second touchdown pass of the half, later on, throwing 40 yards to Devyn Jones to make the score 35-0 after another Latham conversion.
Another Edwardsville touchdown made it 42-0, then a drive that started on the Collinsville 40 featured a 13-yard pass from Abdur-Rahman to Rodgers and a 13-yard run by Johnson. The drive eventually stalled, and Latham kicked a 34-yard field goal that made the score 45-0. Later on, Abdur-Rahman rolled to his right and found Jack Cooper in the end zone, hitting him with an 18-yard pass for the touchdown that made it 52-0 late in the half.
Backup quarterback Luke Oglesby then came into the game and led a four-play, 60-yard drive that ended with Oglesby turning the right corner for 16 yards and a touchdown to make it 59-0 after the conversion. The Kahoks got on the board on the last play from scrimmage as quarterback Chris Chi threw 67 yards down the near sideline to Malcolm Burns for the touchdown, but the conversion kick hit off the crossbar and fell no good, making the score 59-6 for the Tigers and creating a running clock for the second half.
Collinsville got on the board again on the first possession of the second half, driving 74 yards in seven plays, the big play being a 27-yard completion from Chi to Jake Holten. Chi found Holten again 11 yards in the end zone for a second Kahok touchdown that made the score 59-13 after the conversion.
The Tigers got their final touchdown late in the game on an 18-yard run by Oglesby with 1:14 left. The conversion was missed, making the final score of 65-13 for the Tigers.
Edwardsville will find out their first-round opponent and site tonight when the playoff pairings are announced by the IHSA. The pairings can be followed on the IHSA’s website, www.ihsa.org, and will be live-streamed on the site via their TV partner, NBC Sports Chicago. Martin knows what’s ahead, but also feels that his club has good momentum going in.
“Yeah, I mean, we’ve been here before,” Martin said. “Playoffs will be tough. We’ll be in close games; hopefully, we’ll execute well enough to win those. In (Class) 8A, we’re good enough to make some noise in 8A, and see what happens. But those teams are also good enough to lose in the first round. So, just gotta play well, and play hard, and hope we get a couple of breaks, too. Stay healthy is another big thing.”
Martin thinks a balanced offensive attack will also be a key to Edwardsville’s success in the postseason.
“I think so,” Martin said. “Again, a lot of people touched the ball tonight, a lot of people scored, so it’s a balanced attack.”
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