EDWARDSVILLE • The first thing Bryan Bradford did was praise his offensive line. The second thing he did was praise his blocking back. The last thing he did was take any credit — even though he deserved some, too.
A junior running back for the CBC football team, Bradford rushed for 156 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns as CBC powered past Edwardsville 40-19 Friday night at the District 7 Athletic Complex at Edwardsville.
The No. 3 large school in the STLhighschoolsports.com rankings, CBC (2-1) outscored Edwardsville (0-2, No. 6) 26-3 in the second half to blow things open. Edwardsville held a 16-14 lead at halftime.
Bradford was the hammer that helped nail down the victory after a tough road loss last week at brother school Christian Brothers Memphis.
“It feels great to bounce back from a game we should have won especially playing against a good team,” Bradford said.
Count Edwardsville coach Matt Martin as impressed by CBC's 6-foot and 210-pound bruiser.
“(Bradford) was bigger than our D-ends,” he said. “That's a talented football team.”
Junior quarterback Brett Gabbert looked his sensational self as he completed 18 of his 27 passes for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Four passes either hit his receivers in the hands or facemask and were dropped. He completed passes to eight different receivers. Senior standout and Nebraska recruit Cameron Brown led the way with eight catches for 100 yards.
Senior receiver Tyler Walton caught three passes for 54 yards and a 14-yard touchdown. Junior running back Larry Williams Jr. caught one pass but it was a quick-hitter that turned into a 14-yard touchdown.
Gabbert is more than a golden arm as he used his feet effectively to buy more time in the pocket and scramble away from trouble several times. He did take three sacks but it could have been worse.
“Brett hung in there. We have to clean up some protection issues but I think we turned it around a little bit,” CBC coach Scott Pingel said. “I thought when our receivers had some chances they made some plays.”
The Cadets made the plays when they had to have them all night. Edwardsville opened the game by driving 72 yards over nearly eight minutes only to get stuffed at the 2-yard line on fourth-and-goal.
As CBC clung to a 20-19 lead late in the third quarter, Walton intercepted Edwardsville quarterback Kendall Abdur-Rahman at CBC's 5-yard line and returned it 55 yards. On the next play Bradford broke off a 40-yard touchdown run, his third of the game, to give the Cadets some much needed cushion with a 27-19 lead with 2 minutes and 28 seconds to play in the third quarter.
“I think those two plays changed the tone a little bit,” Pingel said. “We bent but didn't break. Our guys kept making the plays when we had to.”
Edwardsville exploded in its season opener last week for 42 unanswered points before injuries decimated the Tigers and Naperville North rallied for a stunning victory. Abdur-Rahman and junior running back Dionte Rodgers used their break-away speed to rip off monster scoring plays. That never materialized against CBC.
Rodgers rushed for 177 yards on 33 carries but never found the end zone. His longest run of the game was 25 yards. Abdur-Rahman rushed for 85 yards with a 34-yard touchdown run, the longest of the game for the Tigers. He scored on a 7-yard scamper, too.
“I was here last Saturday and I saw them go for 80, for 30, for 40. We knew they'd get their 7 or 8 (yards),” Pingel said. “They're a great team when they get in front of the chains. We tried to make it harder at times.”
Edwardsville struggled to throw the ball consistently. Abdur-Rahman completed three of his 13 passes for 30 yards and the one interception. It was the only turnover of the game but it proved to be critical.
“Most games come down to four or five plays,” Martin said. “They didn't have any (turnovers). You have to give them credit. To beat a team like that we're definitely going to have to win the turnover battle.”
Edwardsville senior kicker Devin Parker connected for a pair of 38-yard field goals.
Edwardsville is 0-2 for the first time since 1994 according to the Edwardsville Intelligencer. Things don't get any easier next Friday when the Tigers travel to reigning Class 7A and Southwestern Conference champion East St. Louis.