It wasn't meant to be for two Southern Illinois schools playing Friday for state football championships in DeKalb.
Representing both sides of the Southern Illinois River to River Conference, Murphysboro and Nashville fell in their state championship games. Both teams will return home with second-place trophies in tow.
In Class 4A, Richmond-Burton finished off an undefeated season with a 50-14 win over Murphysboro. It was Richmond-Burton's second state championship.
Murphysboro finishes its season at 11-3. The Red Devils lost to Carbondale, 32-29, in Week 1 and was credited with a loss in Week 6 during the teachers' strike. This was the Red Devils' first-ever trip to a state championship game in football.
Richmond-Burton led 17-0 at halftime, and the Rockets opened the third quarter with an 87-yard kickoff return by Nicholas Lagnaioli.
Dezmond Clark got Murphysboro on the scoreboard with a 90-yard kickoff return with 2:03 left in the third quarter. Clark scored again on a 5-yard run to make the score 50-14 with 3:04 left in the fourth quarter.
You have free articles remaining.
"We ran into a very good football team," Murphysboro coach Gary Carter said after the game. "But I'm proud of what we did to get to this game."
Murphysboro, which won the SIRR Ohio regular-season title, traveled well. The city chartered three buses for the nearly six-hour trek to Huskie Stadium on the campus of Northern Illinois University. For those who couldn't make the trip, many places in Murphysboro hosted watch parties, including Brews Brothers and Moody Muskie's Boat Bar & Grill at Kinkaid Marina.
In the Class 2A game, Sterling Newman downed Nashville, 35-14, to win a state title. It was the sixth state championship for Sterling Newman (13-1), which is in Whiteside County in far northern Illinois.
The Hornets were plagued by turnovers, committing four that led directly to 21 points for Sterling Newman. Nashville, which finished second behind Du Quoin in the SIRR Mississippi Division this season, finishes the season 12-2.
“We just made too many mistakes, especially against a team of this caliber,” said Nashville coach Stephen Kozuszek after the loss. “Seemed like any time we turned it over, they capitalized on it. Any time we’d get momentum with a big play and a stop, it seemed like we would turn it over.”
In other state championship games in DeKalb, Lena-Winslow captured the Class 1A title with a 58-20 win over Moweaqua Central A&M. In Class 3A, Williamsville won the state championship with a 46-42 shootout win over Byron.