By Mike Monahan
Charleston struck often Thursday night, scoring twice by an interception return, four times by passes and two more on the ground on a cold night in which the Trojans dominated St. Joseph-Ogden, 56-14.
First-year quarterback Jack Nelson completed 12 of 14 passes for 256 yards and four touchdown passes on throws of 52, 43, 8 and 12 yards.
“Jack has been working hard and he does a great job,” said Charleston coach Jerry Payne. “Everyone played well. These kids always work hard and never let us down.”
Charleston only punted once, scored on its first six possessions and only faced three third downs and two fourth downs. The Trojans compiled 347 total rushing yards in 28 plays, more than 12 yards a carry.
“I always talk to my captains before we go out for the coin toss,” said Payne. “We just talk it over and decide what we want to do. One of them said, ‘If we win the toss, let’s defer. They have deferred on us the first two weeks. Let’s defer and see what happens, and that way we will have the ball in the second half.’ They lived up to expectations”
It didn’t matter that St. Joseph-Ogden got the ball first although they did move the ball from its own 30 just across midfield when Tyler Thomspon got a tackle for a loss on Brady Buss on a reverse. The next play quarterback Evan Ingram threw long and Sam Schuette picked off the pass and returned it 76 yards for the game’s first points.
“It was a momentum builder,” said Payne.
The Spartans, who had five penalties for 50 yards, were hurt by a holding call on their next drive and then punted only eight yards, giving Charleston excellent field position at the SJO 44. Charleston’s extended the drive when Cory Spour picked up 23 yards on a fourth-and-five. Spour took scored on the next play from 11 yards out, followed by Conor Woodley second of eight extra points to make it 14-0.
Charleston’s defense then forced SJO to go three when Damian Cox tackled Keaton Nolan for a loss of nine.
“I can’t say enough about our line,” said Payne. “ It has been great. Our defensive line coach stays up in the booth and tells the offensive line coach what guys he wants, and we are rolling guys in there all of the time. We sub a lot. That is our only way to stay fresh, and, with the three-man front, we can roll guys in all of the time.”
Check out the PHOTO GALLERY of Thursday's game.
The Trojans began their next possession on their own 38, which was the deepest start in the game. Spour turned a screen pass from Nelson into a 52-yard scoring play.
Charleston then scored on its first play on the next possession – a 44-yard run by Nelson to make it 28-0.
Charleston only needed two plays to score after forcing another three and out when Schuette caught a 43-yard pass from Nelson to make it 35-0.
An illegal chop block erased a touchdown by St. Joseph and set up another score by Charleston, Schuette tipped a pass to Brady Rennels for the interception on the Charleston 38. Nelson then fired a 50-yard pass to Ty Coartney as time wound down in the first half. Two plays later, Thompson caught an 8-yard scoring pass from Nelson for a 42-0 halftime lead and prompting the mercy rule for the final two quarters. The clock runs nonstop once a team leads by 40 points.
“Jack got in a little bit of trouble and the receiver stayed his route and popped open and Jack saw him,” said Payne of the play. “That is just thousands and thousands of reps. That is what that is.”
Charleston scored on the first possession of the second half on its longest drive when Thompson caught a 12-yard scoring pass that capped a six-play drive. It was 49-0 after the extra point.
The Spartans, though, scored on back-to-back drives. First, Tyler Burch ran 47 yards down the left sideline to score with 5:55 left in the third quarter followed by a two-point conversion. Keaton Nolan then capped a 32 yard drive with a two-yard run. The two-point conversion pass failed.
Spour finished off an excellent game with a 25-yard interception return for the final TD of the game.
Nelson was the leading rusher with 47 yards on three carries and a touchdown, while Rennels was the top receiver with seven catches for 104 yards and a TD.
Charleston held SJO to 123 yards of total offense, half of which occurred on their final drive which ended at the Trojans’ 7-yard line.
The defense worked their tails off,” said Payne. “After last week’s game, I really felt like I needed to do a little more research for this week. I did more and then sat down with my defensive coaches and tried to come up with a game plan that would help us and we were lucky this week because our game plan kind of did exactly what we were hoping for.”
Twenty different CHS players had at least one assist tackle and Spour led with eight.
Nolan led the Spartans and all rushers with 24 carries for 106 yards and a TD and six different receivers caught one pass each.
On April 9, the Trojans travel to Frank Dutton Field in Mahomet to play Mahomet-Seymour.
“I kind of told the boys to celebrate tonight because it gets tougher as we go because Mahomet, Taylorville and Mattoon are not just going to lay down,” said Payne. “They are going to come ready to fight. “
C-Sam Schuette 76 interception return (Conor Woodley kick) 7:23
C-Cory Spour 11 run (Woodley kick) 3:05
C-Spour 52 pass from Jack Nelson (Woodely kick 11:46
C-Nelson 44 run (Woodley kick) 8:07
C-Schuette 43 pass from Nelson (Woodley kick) 5:45
C-Tyler Thompson 8 pass from Nelson (Woodley kick) :44.8
C-Thompson 12 pass from Nelson (Woodley kick) 8:12
S-Tyler Burch 47 run (Jackson Rydell pass from Evan Ingram) 5:55
S-Keaton Nolan 2 run (pass failed) 5:23
C-Spour 23 interception return (Woodley kick) 6:05
S-Keaton Nolan 24-106, TD; Tyler Burch 6-89, TD; Evan Ingram 1-(-7); Brady Buss 1-(-9); Ethan Vandew 1-4: Totals 33-183, 2 TDs
C-Jack Nelson 3-47, TD; Cory Spour 4-37, 2 TDs; Brayden Rennels 1-1; Ty Coartney 1-1; Nate Shrader 1-(-3); Totals 10-83, 3 TDS
S-Ingram 6-12-3-40, 0 TDs
C-Nelson 12-14-0-256, 4 TDs; Sam Schuette 1-4-0-8, 0 TDs; totals 13-18-0-264, 4 TDs
S-Buss 1-6; Nolan 1-8; Jackson Rydell 1-7; Alex Funk 1-8; Xander Rieches 1-6; Jett Morris 1-5
C-Rennels 7-104, TD; Tyler Thompson 3-17, 2 TDs; Spour 1-52, TD; Ty Coartney 1-50; Schuette 1-43, TD
Tackles (top two)
C-Spour 8, Coartney 7
S-45-123, 2 TDs
C-28-347 7 TDs
Average starting drive, ending drive
S-own 32, C-own 47. Ending drive: S-C48, C-S16