Panthers come close but fall short in conference opener versus Maroons

Running back Richard Cosey runs forward against a group of Maroon defenders during the game Saturday evening.  (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

Running back Richard Cosey runs forward against a group of Maroon defenders during the game Saturday evening.
(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Jeff Egbert)

BELLEVILLE – O’Fallon traveled to Belleville West Saturday night to play in a postponed game due to rain and lightning delays Friday night. O’Fallon originally was to host the game Friday night, but due to events already scheduled, the game had been moved to Belleville West when it was pushed back to 7 p.m. on Saturday evening.

When asked about how his team felt because of the change of venue, Coach Brandon Joggerst said, “The change of venue and rain delay did not affect our team. I thought our players played hard and battled until the end of the game.”

The first quarter started off slow for both teams, but it was also very competitive with neither side giving an edge to their opponent. Belleville West took the lead late in the first quarter going up 7-0. But at the end of the quarter it was even at 7-7 tie because of a strike over the middle by Quarterback Christian Perez to receiver Darryl Cobb Jr.

Belleville West would show up big to start the second quarter as they intercepted Perez on a tipped pass. The Maroons would then march down the field into O’Fallon territory and convert on a 32 yard field goal that was hit off the crossbar. Midway through the second quarter it was the defense of Belleville West that would come up big again. A fumble was forced and recovered by Belleville West which then turned into points for the Maroons as they increased their lead on the Panthers 17-7. Christian Perez once again showed his mobility in the pocket late in the second quarter as he scrambled for a completion to Jarvus Smith to put them within field goal range. Sophomore kicker, Brooks Hackney, would complete the drive by making the field goal. At the intermission, Belleville West had the lead 17-10 over the O’Fallon Panthers.

O’Fallon would then mishandle the ball on kickoff, starting their drive at their own two yard line. A rushing touchdown from one yard out kept the Maroons ahead of the Panthers 23-10 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter. The Panthers would then creep into enemy territory with help from running backs Mason Hewitt, and Richard Cosey. Perez would then find his target, Ronald Anthony, for a 36 yard touchdown pass over the middle.

Perez went 14-26 on the night with 226 yards through the air. Perez also threw two touchdowns and two interceptions.This would keep the Panthers in striking distance, 17-23 with seven minutes to go in the third. O’Fallon tried to catch the Maroons off-guard by trying an onside kick, but Belleville West was able to recover. Both teams would then end the quarter with defensive stops in their own territory.

“We did some positive things Saturday night on offense, defense, and special teams. Unfortunately we had some costly turnovers that seemed to make the difference in the game,” Coach Joggerst noted.

The Panthers had 226 yards through the air, and 157 yards on the ground. The Panthers would also have 13 penalties against them that would count for 99 yards.

The run game in the fourth quarter was too much for O’Fallon as the Maroons would score a rushing touchdown from 36 yards out and convert the two-point conversion making it 31-17 Belleville West.

Hewitt would come through for his team once again on kick return. Returning it 95 yards to the Belleville West two yard line. Perez would take it into the endzone again, giving him three touchdowns on the evening, but the extra point was missed. The Panthers would once again cut into the lead of the Maroons making it 31-23. The Maroons answered right back with a field goal to make it 34-23 Belleville West, and the Panthers just couldn’t get back into the endzone, turning it over late in the fourth with two minutes to go.

The Panthers travel to Edwardsville on Friday.