MURPHYSBORO — After giving up nearly 50 points a week ago, the Carterville defense stepped up its game on Friday night.
The Lions stopped Murphysboro drives repeatedly near the red zone and picked up a 35-7 win in prep football.
“For the most part, the kids really executed on defense, and they made some big plays,” said Carterville coach Dennis Drust. “Two fourth down stops, a fumble recovery inside the five, and the interception in the end zone were all huge. They bent a little bit, but they didn’t break.”
The biggest turning point in the game came when Carterville led 14-0 in the second quarter. Murphysboro’s Latrelle Spencer ran 22 yards down to the 1-yard line.
But the Red Devils lost a fumble on the next play. Carterville proceeded to drive 96 yards for a score just before the half.
Christian Rawlinson completed a 27-yard pass to Luke Ford and followed that with a 24-yard touchdown strike to Markas Lazdinis. That gave the Lions a 21-0 advantage.
“Cameron Meade came out and ran really well for us early and that allowed us to open up our passing game,” Drust said. “That drive made a big difference, and we felt that score before halftime really set us apart for the rest of the game.”
Spencer ran for a 6-yard touchdown to pull Murphysboro within 21-7 with 3:51 left in the third quarter. But Murphysboro had plenty of chances to score and couldn’t capitalize over the course of the game.
“We just keep shooting ourselves in the foot, and we’re going to break over sometime here,” said Murphysboro coach Gary Carter. “I still think we’ve got a lot of ability. Even though the score wasn’t the way we wanted it, there were a lot of positives we can take away from it. We just didn’t play very well, and that’s on me. I’m the one who has got to get them ready to play, and obviously, we’re still making mistakes.”
Rawlinson tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Ford early in the fourth quarter, which extended the lead to 28-7.
Spencer delivered a sensational 64-yard run later in the quarter to get Murphysboro into the red zone. But Carterville’s Harley Vaughn picked off a pass near the goal line to thwart that drive as well.
One bright spot for Murphysboro was the play of Spencer, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound junior. He racked up 117 rushing yards on seven carries.
“He’s a load,” Carter said of Spencer. “He’s a big boy who can run and block. He can bring a lot of positives to offense.”
Lazdinis rushed for a touchdown and caught a scoring pass as well for the Lions. Rawlinson threw for 122 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 90 yards with a score.
Carterville improved to 2-1, and Murphysboro fell to 0-3.