BY COLTEN STEELE WEEKLY REPORTER
O’FALLON – Winning the Homecoming game will always be an even sweeter victory for the players, coaches, and the students.
“Any win is a good win, but winning on homecoming in front of a great crowd was exciting for the players and memorable” said Head Coach Brandon Joggerst.
The Panthers rallied around their senior superstars, Christian Perez and Mason Hewitt to get past the Alton Redbirds 56-28.
The Panthers played outstanding on both sides of the ball, racking up 603 total yards offensively, and defensively forcing three turnovers total and allowing Alton to only seven points in the second half.
“I thought offensively we were very efficient. We passed for 295 yards, and rushed for 294 yards. We must continue to clean up the penalties and eliminate the turnovers as we progress through the season. Defensively we were very effective in the second half as we were able to get pressure on the quarterback,” said Joggerst.
Senior Captain Mason Hewitt also had an impressive night on special teams. Early in the first quarter, Hewitt returned the kickoff 95 yards to the end zone to take the lead over Alton 7-6.
Junior Quarterback Christian Perez had himself a night through the air, as he went 13 for 26 for 295 yards, four touchdowns, and a QB rate of 114.6. Coach Joggerst said, “Christian continues to make good decisions with the football. He has been very accurate and I thought our offensive line protected him well, and the receivers caught the ball well.”
It was late in the second quarter when Perez found Ronald Anthony on an 83 yard pass for a touchdown to claim their lead at 27-15 going into half.
The Redbirds would start the second half with momentum as they had a quick touchdown, and turnover which lead to a score to take the lead from the Panthers 27-28.
But the highpowered O’Fallon offense came to play, and would not stop the beating as they found the endzone four times in the second half. A bobbled snap lead to a broken play and a 32 yard TD pass to #15 Burke Watts.
The defense also came up big in the second half holding the Redbirds to only seven points.
Coach Joggerst said, “We stressed at halftime about getting pressure on the quarterback, and being sound in position and making tackles.”
Senior, Herman Rich, picked off Alton quarterback to take over at the Redbird 41 yard line, which would then lead to another score.
Quarterback Christian Perez found his wideout Ronald Anthony again on a slant over the middle to extend their lead 42-28 in the fourth quarter. Ronald Anthony and Perez were a tough duo to stop on Friday as they connected on four passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
The Panthers run game in the fourth quarter allowed them to sustain the momentum and get the victory. Senior Running back Mason Hewitt made an unbelievable run from 27 yards out breaking multiple tackles to extend their lead 49-28 midway through the fourth quarter.
Hewitt had 219 yards on the ground, averaging 7.1 yards per carry on the evening. Coach Joggerst commented on Hewitt’s performance saying, “Mason continues to run extremely hard, and makes more than one person bring him down. He gets a lot of yards after contact.”
Herman Rich would then make another defensive play, recovering a fumble to allow the Panthers to run out the clock with just four minutes left in the final quarter. But that wasn’t it for the Panthers as they would find the endzone again. This time it was a rushing touchdown from five yards out by Sophomore, Dorian Brown.
The Panthers would go on to win 56-28 showing their dominance in the second half. The Panthers record now sits at 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the conference. They will travel to Granite City Friday night to face the Warriors who are currently 3-2 overall and 2-1 against conference opponents.