EDWARDSVILLE — The lane opened and Jordan Clay followed it from the shadow of his own end zone.
A junior running back for the CBC football team, Clay went 97 yards on the Cadets' first offensive play for a touchdown. It set the tone as CBC beat Edwardsville 44-27 Friday at Edwardsville's District 7 Sports Complex.
The No. 2 large school in the STLhighschoolsports.com rankings and the top-ranked team in Class 6, CBC (2-0) has won all three meetings with Edwardsville in the last three seasons. Friday was the second time the Cadets took on the Tigers in their house. CBC was well aware of what it was getting itself into making the trek to Madison County.
“With Coach (Matt) Martin's team you knew physicality would be the biggest thing,” CBC coach Scott Pingel said. “We know from our experience playing these guys how physical they want to be.”
The No. 5 large school, Edwardsville (1-1) showed that on its first drive. The Tigers went 86 yards over six minute and scored when junior running back Justin Johnson Jr. punched in a 2-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead.
After CBC bobbled the ensuing kickoff, it set up at its own 3-yard-line. Then Clay was cleared for takeoff.
“When I see green, I go,” Clay said. “I can't do it if the big guys up front don't get the job done. If they don't create the hole then I can't get it. They did so I just took advantage of the opportunity.”
The Cadets were opportunistic much of the night. The snap and hold on their first extra point kick went sideways and when it did senior holder Dylan Wardenburg rolled out and found senior receiver Tyler Dixon for a busted play 2-point conversion to give the Cadets an 8-7 lead with 5 minutes and 39 seconds to play in the first quarter. CBC would not trail again.
The Cadets extended their lead when sophomore quarterback Ayden Robinson-Wayne connected with junior receiver Zach Hahn for a 28-yard touchdown. Again the extra point attempt didn't go as planned. Again the Cadets made the most out of it as Wardenburg took the ball and managed to sneak in past the pylon on the right sideline to put CBC ahead 16-7 with just more than a minute to play in the first.
A bad snap on Edwardsville's first play on its ensuing drive gave CBC the ball at the Tigers' 17. Robinson-Wayne scored from 2 yards out and the Cadets led 23-7 at the end of the first quarter.
“We knew they like to run the ball with (Johnson) and if they could shorten the game they probably would,” Pingel said. “I felt if we could get up 14 it would put us in a good situation.”
Edwardsville continued to feed Johnson as he rushed 31 times for 194 yards and scored four times. But the Tigers couldn't match the quick strike ability of CBC. The Cadets' offense caught them flat footed early in the game as they rushed to the line of scrimmage to quicken the tempo of the game.
“They're pretty quick,” Martin said. “That's hard to simulate in practice.”
Clay added another touchdown and Hahn caught a 63-yard strike across the middle from sophomore quarterback Patrick Heitert and CBC took a 37-14 into halftime.
Hahn caught seven passes for 139 yards and two scores. Clay rushed 10 times for 181 yards and two scores.
Robinson-Wayne completed 12 of 16 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a short score.
The only time Edwardsville managed to keep a muzzle on the Cadets was the third quarter. The Tigers came out of the break and forced CBC's only punt. They then took the ball back when the Cadets couldn't connect on a 40-yard field goal.
Johnson scored his fourth touchdown of the game just more than two minutes into the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 37-21 and give the Tigers some hope.
Those hopes were dashed when CBC's offense went 75 yards over four minutes and capped the drive when junior running back Arthur McAlpine scored an 8-yard touchdown to seal the win.
“I think their offense likes to slow down the clock and keep us off offense,” Hahn said. “They're a good team and it's always a battle. I'm glad we played them tonight.”
Edwardsville didn't get the result it wanted but Martin came away with positives. The Tigers hadn't played a full quarter of football this season after their opener at McCluer North was halted then canceled after last Friday's nasty weather. The Tigers were awarded a 7-6 win.
“We made a lot of mistakes. You can't make those kinds of mistakes against a very good team like that,” Martin said. “Even if we play well we're in a game with them. We can't play them and ourselves. But I'm encouraged. There's a lot of positives. If our boys are willing to fix it we'll be a better team.”