By Joe Gisondi
Charleston football coach Jerry Payne says that he took too much time calling plays.
Mattoon quarterback Jackson Spurgeon said his team relied heavily on heart.
And retiring Green Wave coach Troy Johnson joked that he was holding back tears after winning his final Coles County Clash.
At least, we think he was joking. Decide for yourself in the video below.
So how exactly did Mattoon pull off the victory Friday night at O’Brien Stadium?
Sure, emotion and heart played a part. The cross-county rivalry always brings out all kinds of emotions that were apparent at the end of the game when Mattoon players threw water bottles and sprayed water in the air on the sidelines, where cheerleaders, fans and friends hugged, cried, and screamed — depending on where your loyalties lay.
But passion alone can no more win a legal case as it can a 48-minute football game.
So let’s break down Friday night’s game by relying more on stats and analysis.
- Mattoon QB Jackson Spurgeon is relentless. The senior fumbled early on, which set up a short, quick scoring drive that put Charleston ahead 6-0 midway through the first quarter. Spurgeon was also picked off on a well-telegraphed throw toward a teammate along the right sidelines that Langdon King caught midstride and ran 50-plus yards for another TD that gave the Trojans a 14-0 lead a few minutes later. After those opening gaffes, Spurgeon grinded away as a runner, willing to take multiple hits in exchange for extra yards, and he confidently threw passes to receivers – including one to Derrius White that spiraled just over the outstretched arms of a CHS defender and allowed the senior to race 20 yards for MHS’s first score. Spurgeon ran 14 times for 68 yards overall, threw for 194 yards and directly played a part in four touchdowns and a 2-point conversion.
- Derrius White is too talented to leave in one-on-one coverage. White uncharacteristically dropped two sure-fire TDS – one in the first half when he raced past a defender near midfield and another on the final drive. But the senior receiver was spectacular the rest of the game, acrobatically snagging the winning TD and hauling in five passes for 98 yards – just missing his third 100-yard game. White was also too much for opposing receivers as a defensive back, knocking away a potential Charleston TD toss at the 35-yard line near the end of the first half, and harassing Trojans receivers all game.
3. Charleston kept finding a way to battle back. Mattoon compiled nearly twice as many yards as Charleston (372-203), recorded double the number of first downs (17-8) and converted third downs more successfully by a 2-to-1 margin. Yet, Charleston continued to find ways to score, mixing a balanced offensive attack on its first drive of the second half that blended four straight runs and then three successive passes, which concluded on a 24-yard TD pass to a wide-open Wyatt Shrader on the far right side that put CHS ahead, 21-20. After falling behind again, Charleston moved 65 yards on five plays, highlighted by a 29-yard pass from Jack Nelson to Luke Nelson and capped by a 12-yard run by Nate Shrader to make it 27-26. Payne called a pretty solid game despite his post-game lamentations.
4. Mattoon needed a kicking game. Green Wave kickoffs repeatedly rolled out of bounds, giving Charleston excellent field position. Mattoon ultimately abandoned PATS after missing the first, but it only converted one of four two-point conversions.
5. Where did Zayvion come from, and, more importantly, where did he go? The senior, who has been used sparingly – having run for 25 yards on 9 carries against Effingham and 10 yards on five carries against Lincoln – ran over MHS defenders for 13 and 5 yards during a drive early in the second half, carrying some defenders on one carry as if he were Christian Okoye. Johnson-Mitchel lost a yard on the next carry when he was met at the line of scrimmage by a wall of MHS defenders. After that, he mostly disappeared, carrying only once more in the game.
6. The oddest play of the night. A Charleston player jogged on to the field as Mattoon punted the ball, seemingly OK since the Trojans initially had fielded only 10 players at the time. But a player may not enter the field of play once a play has started; the referees said the ball had already been snapped and subsequently assessed a 15-yard penalty – nullifying a poor punt that would have enabled Charleston to take over on Mattoon’s 45-yard line.
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