It had been 10 quarters since Mattoon last scored an offensive touchdown.
The Green Wave made up for lost time by finding pay dirt six times en route to a 42-18 Apollo Conference victory over Lincoln on Friday night.
Jakai Johnson eclipsed the 200-yard mark and scored three touchdowns while Jackson Spurgeon rushed for 100 yards and threw for 135 more in advance of next week’s Coles County Clash with Charleston.
“We had a great week of practice,” said Mattoon assistant coach Jarad Kimbro. “The kids were focused and it showed tonight.”
The Green Wave took advantage of five Lincoln turnovers, including a fumble that set up a 4-yard touchdown run from Johnson to open the scoring with 3 minutes, 38 seconds left in the first quarter. The Green Wave added another first-quarter score on a 47-yard pass play from Spurgeon to Dylan Burton.
It appeared the rout was on following a 28-yard field goal by freshman Evan Chaney.
But on the ensuing drive, Lincoln picked up two fourth downs, one of which was aided by a Mattoon penalty. On fourth-and-goal at the Mattoon 1-yard line, Lincoln’s Elijah Pollice passed to Tony Gandolfi in the end zone to cut its deficit to 15-6 at the half.
Any hopes for a Lincoln comeback were dashed in the early stages of the third quarter. The Green Wave took the opening drive of the second half 66 yards on six plays, capped by a 31-yard Johnson touchdown run.
The dagger for the Railers may have been on the ensuing kickoff by Chaney – a high, short kick recovered by sophomore Logan Blackburn at the Lincoln 23-yard line. Senior Zach Shick capped that scoring drive with a 12-yard run to put Mattoon ahead 28-6.
Lincoln countered with a passing touchdown, but another third quarter touchdown run by Johnson and a passing touchdown from Spurgeon to Shick would supply more than enough offense for Mattoon.
“We’re not very big, but (we’re) very physical,” Kimbro said. “Jakai’s got good speed to get outside and we took advantage of that.”
The Green Wave outgained the Railers in overall yardage, 482-301.
Mattoon improves to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in league play, while Lincoln falls to 0-5.
Mattoon’s 27-point third quarter eclipsed its point total across the previous four games.
Mattoon next plays Charleston next Friday at EIU’s O’Brien Stadium.
“It’s a great atmosphere (The Clash),” said Kimbro, “and we’re looking forward to it.”
You can listen to Mattoon HIgh football games on 101.3 or myradiolink.com with Greg Powers and Andy Zavarella.