BELLEVILLE — Carterville probably needed to play a perfect game to beat Althoff on Saturday. The host Crusaders made sure in a hurry that wouldn’t happen.
Eighth-seeded Althoff scored on its first possession, then made a goal-line stand that helped propel it to a 42-0 win over No. 9 Carterville in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Junior quarterback Hayes Taylor threw two touchdown passes and rushed for one, sending Althoff (9-1) into a second-round game at top-seeded Rochester (10-0). The Rockets ended the Crusaders’ season 48-47 in the quarterfinals last season on their road to their sixth Class 4A state championship in the last seven years.
“It’s going to be a good fight,” said Taylor, who was at Ladue High last year.
Both of Taylor’s touchdown passes were to senior Burke Watts, one in the first quarter that covered 60 yards and one in the second quarter that went for 45 yards. It was Taylor’s first two touchdown passes of the season to Watts, a transfer from O’Fallon.
“We’ve been running the ball all year, just grounding and pounding,” Taylor said. “Today we just thought we would open it up a little bit and get Burke the ball.”
Taylor’s 7-yard touchdown run with 10:52 left in the third quarter followed an interception by sophomore Nick Alberico that made it 42-0 and began a continuous running clock.
Senior Melvin Brock had a 69-yard touchdown run to open the Crusaders’ scoring. Senior Richard Cosey had a 1-yard touchdown dive in the second quarter and senior Justin Strong matched Brock with a 69-yard run later in the second quarter that made it 35-0.
“They stacked the box with a three-four and tried to take away our power,” Crusaders coach Ken Turner said. “On film, we were running it pretty good in the middle. We’ve got quick guys and we were able to get to the edge and let those guys do their thing.”
Carterville coach Dennis Drust said Althoff had too many playmakers for the Lions.
“When Althoff’s athletes get out in the secondary and get into the open field, they’re very elusive and very good,” Drust said. “They continued to make the big play. We stopped them a couple of times on first or second down, then they would have a big play on third down and would either break it for a long score or get the first down."
The Lions (7-3), after falling behind 7-0 on Brock’s long run, moved to the Althoff four on a 42-yard pass play from senior Harley Vaughn to senior Justin Johnson.
On first down, senior Markas Lazdinis gained three yards, but the Crusaders stuffed Lazdinis two consecutive times, then swallowed up Vaughn on his attempt up the middle.
“It was definitely a momentum swing,” Drust said. “We needed all the momentum we could get. We felt the strength of their team was their down-four linemen. They stepped up on the goal line and the linebackers filled in. We just couldn’t get it in. Give their line credit.”
Carterville senior tight end Luke Ford wasn’t much of a factor, he had just one catch for four yards.
Brock rushed seven times for 111 yards, Strong added six carries for 91 yards and Cosey had 12 runs for 65 yards.