DU QUOIN — Alex Zimmerman provided big plays with his legs and right arm. Konnor Harris showed a nose for the end zone in limited touches, and Braeden Higgins keyed a strong effort by the defensive line.
The trio were the stars of Du Quoin’s third straight win, a 35-10 decision over Herrin Friday night at Van Metre Field.
Zimmerman was efficient and explosive in accounting for 360 total yards. The senior quarterback rushed for 140 yards and two scores on just nine carries while completing 14 of 18 passes for 220 yards with an interception and a touchdown.
“It’s always a tough game with Herrin the past few years,” Zimmerman said, “so to get a win like this against them is amazing.”
Harris scored twice on 1-yard runs, and delivered the game-breaking score when he took a screen pass from Zimmerman, broke a tackle and zoomed 84 yards down the right sideline for his third touchdown. That gave the Indians an insurmountable 28-10 cushion with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
“Konnor Harris gave us a huge play, a huge momentum swing,” said Du Quoin coach Derek Beard. “The passing game wasn’t always pretty, but we got some big plays out of it.
The 6-6, 260-pound Higgins sacked Chance Karnes twice and logged some other pressures. That helped speedy Dasani Edward intercept three passes.
Karnes completed 16 of 38 passes for 200 yards and four picks, but his numbers could have been better. Tiger receivers dropped at least six passes, and a touchdown throw late in the third quarter was nullified for holding.
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“We’re making way too many mistakes at critical times,” said Herrin coach Jason Karnes. “We’re dropping way too many passes, and frankly, it’s embarrassing. The lack of execution is unlike Herrin Tiger teams, and I take full responsibility.”
Herrin kicker Jake Baumgarte converted a 38-yard field goal at the 7:12 mark of the first quarter to initiate scoring. It was his second field goal attempt of the drive, and it was the first one that put him in position to hit the next one.
Baumgarte’s 57-yard attempt was blocked, but several Du Quoin players started celebrating. They failed to realize a blocked field goal is a live ball. Baumgarte did, scooping it up and scampering 17 yards to the Indians’ 23 to extend the march.
The Tigers’ defense starred in the first quarter, allowing just 11 yards and no first downs. They denied Du Quoin points after a 4th-and-1 gamble from their 25 was stuffed for no gain. The Indians had to give it up at the Herrin 16 when Edward came up a yard shy on a 4th-and-11 pass.
But Zimmerman cracked the code with one well-executed play fake and run on Du Quoin’s first snap of the second quarter. From the 16, he pulled the ball out of a running back’s belly. Multiple defenders went with the back, while Zimmerman ripped off an 84-yard touchdown run for a 7-3 lead.
On the Indians’ next possession, Zimmerman employed his arm. After converting a 3rd and 12 with a 22-yard strike to Jacob Green that pushed the ball to the Tigers’ 43, Zimmerman went with short passes after that.
A 13-yarder to Harris moved the chains and an 11-yarder to Nick Depyatic positioned the ball inside the 1. Harris cashed it in on the next by plunging off right tackle for a 14-3 advantage 2:58 before halftime.
Herrin stole momentum going into halftime, though, when Karnes scrambled to his right and fired a 33-yard touchdown pass to Billy Braid with 27.8 seconds left. That made the Du Quoin margin 14-10 at intermission.