Edwardsville's No. 3 Kendell Davis scampers for a long gain on Friday night against Belleville East. (Photo by Dan Brannan)

Edwardsville's A.J. Epenesa (No. 99) is shown on a sack on Friday night against Belleville East. Epenesa had his best game of the season against the Lancers. He blocked a field goal, had a scoop and score for 52 yards and was all over the field with his defensive partner, Desmond Chapple. (Photo by Dan Brannan). EDWARDSVILLEEdwardsville was expecting a close game against Belleville East Friday night at Tiger Stadium.

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What they got was totally unexpected – in a good way.

The Tigers got big plays from their defense and special teams – especially from junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa – as they defeated the Lancers 45-20.

Epenesa got the Tigers rolling on a 52-yard scoop-and-score fumble recovery from a high snap late in the first quarter, then blocked a Matt Sotiropolouis field-goal attempt in the second term. The Tiger special teams also accounted for a score when Quentin Dissen blocked a Sotriropolouis punt deep in Lancer territory, then got the ball and walked in for a touchdown late in the first half to pretty much put the game on ice.

“We got some turnovers, we got some big plays on offense; it got us to a big lead right away,” said Tiger coach Matt Martin.

That the Tigers did; in addition to Epenesa's TD recovery and Dissen's blocked punt, Riley Jones and Chrys Colley hooked up on a 54-yard touchdown pass in the dying moments of the first half, then was on the receiving end of a 69-yard TD pass on a double-reverse-turned-halfback-option pass from Daval Torres to open the second half and put the Tigers up 38-0.

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As far as Epenesa's game went, Martin said “he knows if he reads his keys and plays hard, the game will come to him.”

Chrys Colley snares one of his touchdown catches against Belleville East on Friday night. (Photo by Dan Brannan)Desmond Chapple also had a big game for the Tigers; he wound up sacking Lancer quarterback Andrew Millas three times. “I’ve been really pleased with Desmond this year,” Martin said. “He’s really grown up, he’s really matured. As long as he keeps going in that direction, he’ll finish the season strong and have a chance to play at a high level next year.”

“Edwardsville's a good team,” said Lancer coach Kris Stephens. “Both teams made some mistakes and they capitalized. We had some turnovers and they turned them into points. They had some turnovers and we couldn't; that was the difference.

“Not going to take anything away from them – they have a good team – but we had some opportunities out there and we didn't capitalize on them and they did. We had some special-teams miscues and it cost us.”

In addition to the big-play scores, the Tigers got a 5-yard TD run from Jones and a 3-yard burst from Kendell Davis for their final score of the evening; Riley Patterson opened the scoring with a 30-yard field goal with 7:42 left in the first term.

The win put the Tigers at 5-0 on the season, 3-0 in the Southwestern Conference; the Lancers fell to 3-2 overall, 2-1 in the league. Edwardsville faces another stern test next week when they take on East St. Louis at Clyde Jordan Stadium; kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday.

Tight end A.J. Epenesa waits on a pass from quarterback Riley Jones on Friday night. (Photo by Dan Brannan)Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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