Waterloo continued to play takeaway-keepaway football Friday night to remain undefeated on a season which is suddenly almost halfway done.
The Bulldogs used a combination of turnovers and solid running to eat up clock and knock off Mascoutah 23-19 Friday at home.
“Mascoutah is a solid program and that is a good football team,” Waterloo coach Dan Rose said. “Some years things just don’t go your way. Things went our way tonight.
“We put ourselves in position to not quite be that tight, but I’m real proud of my kids. They played hard and they hung in there. It is exciting to be 4-0.”
The game turned on a mistake by the visitors midway through the third quarter. With Waterloo leading 16-13, Mascoutah was on a roll, set with a first and 10 at the Bulldogs 11-yard line. But the Indians fumbled and senior Shelby Culpepper picked up the pigskin and raced 84 yards the other way for the touchdown.
“The ball couldn’t have bounced any better,” Rose said. “If he doesn’t get that, who knows. It was a good thing that happened for our team and it helped us out.”
Culpepper also scored on offense and finished with 178 yards on 15 carries.
“He has really developed into a great player,” Rose said. “We just need to make sure that we are using everyone we can so that when they start keying on Shelby we have other people we are going to. The more you spread it around, the harder it is to defend. We have some kids who are athletic.”
“We knew going in that he was going to give us trouble on the counter,” Mascoutah coach Scott Battas said. “We knew exactly what they wanted to do to us and I think for the most part we did a pretty good job. It was just big play after big play. It is just a shame. A couple of things go our way and you like our chances to win.”
The Indians put themselves in prime position just three plays after the fumble. Starting sophomore quarterback Zack Lindsay left the game with a leg injury and classmate Robert Pearson took his place behind center. On third and 11 from his own 19, Pearson handed the ball to halfback Ray Quesada, who chucked the ball downfield to senior Joey Bregenhorn. The receiver evaded a tackle and rumbled in for the score, but the two-point try failed and Mascoutah was within a score.
“We got our quarterback knocked out and you want to put your backup in a situation where he can’t hurt you too bad,” Battas said. “We decided to try something and it worked out. It gave us a lot of momentum and carried us through the rest of the game and gave us a chance to win.”
Mascoutah opened the scoring with 4:08 to play in the opening stanza when Quesada took a screen pass and ran it 85 yards for the touchdown, putting the Indians up 7-0.
Waterloo got the touchdown back on the second play of the second quarter when Culpepper had an 85-yard scoring run of his own. The extra point went wide right and the hosts trailed by one.
Lindsay gave the Indians a 13-6 lead on a 13-yard touchdown run later in the period, but the Bulldogs answered on a swerving 60-yard score by senior Dalton Kaufman.
Senior Aron Aycock hit a 28-yard field goal with three seconds left in the opening half to give Waterloo a 16-13 advantage at the break.
“We had some real opportunities and a couple of things happened and it is typical of some of the things that have cost us all year long,” Battas said. “We have an inexperienced football team for the most part, but I can’t say enough about our kids. Our backs were against the wall against a 3-0 team and I am so proud of our kids. There wasn’t a lot expected of us, but we had a chance to win the game late.
“We couldn’t get it to go our way, but give our kids credit. Give Waterloo credit too, they did what they had to in order to win the game.”
Mascoutah (0-4) hosts Jerseyville next Friday while Waterloo puts its unblemished record on the line at Civic Memorial in a Mississippi Valley Conference match.
“Our conference is tough, even though the teams don’t have great records at the moment,” Rose said. “We are 4-0 and we have to fix the little problems and be ready to go next Friday night.
“I told the kids to never be dissatisfied with a win, but be darned sure to fix your mistakes. If we take care of those mistakes, we don’t have to rely on the huge plays.”