The East St. Louis defense came up big when it counted most on Friday night.
The Flyers stopped a 2-point conversion passing attempt with 13 seconds left to hang on for a 50-48 win over Naperville Neuqua Valley in a battle of two of the top teams in the state.
East St. Louis (3-0) racked up 615 yards of offense. But it was the defense that saved the day.
Senior safety Antonio Johnson had the coverage on the conversion attempt.
Junior quarterback Tyler Macon hit on 14 of 17 passes for 332 yards and three scores. He also rushed 12 times for 70 yards.
Senior running back DaMonta Witherspoon had 116 yards on 23 carries as the Flyers racked up 283 yards on the ground.
Witherspoon’s 5-yard run with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left put the Flyers up 50-42.
East St. Louis scored twice in the first 6:42 of the second half to take a 44-28 lead.
The wild, three-hour contest featured 954 yards of total offense.
The Flyers, who have won eight state titles — the last in 2016 — have outscored their opponents 113-65 this season
East St. Louis, which will host Belleville West on Saturday at 1 p.m., is ranked first in the state in Class 5A.
STARS MOVING ON UP
McCluer North scored six first-half touchdowns on the way to a 58-6 win over Parkway South on Saturday afternoon in Florissant.
Senior quarterback Angelo Butts led the way with five touchdowns — three on the ground and two through the air. He scored on runs of 72 and 70 yards.
His 38-yard scoring strike to De’Von Williams late in the first half pushed the lead to 36-0.
The Stars (2-1) have won their last two games by a combined 94-6 following a 7-6 opening day loss to Edwardsville in a game that was stopped late in the first quarter by rain.
North went 0-10 in 2017.
John Burroughs junior Riley King kicked off the field hockey season in style with a pair of high-octane performances.
King scored five times in a 9-0 win over Westminster on Sept. 7. Three days earlier, she scored four times in a 12-0 triumph over Lutheran South.
She has 10 goals and four assists and has helped Burroughs win five of its first seven matches.
King, who also excels at lacrosse, scored a team-high 18 goals last season.
THE STREAK IS OVER
The Waterloo volleyball team broke a 14-match losing streak to Columbia with an eye-popping 25-21, 25-19 win on Thursday.
The Bulldogs previous win over the Eagles came on Sept. 9, 2010.
Sophomore Paige Montgomery led the winning attack with six kills. Ella Bockhorn and Maddy Brown added four kills each. Setter Kati Casey ran the offense with 20 assists. Hailey Montgomery chipped in with eight service winners.
Waterloo (7-3) has won seven of eight after an 0-2 start to the campaign.
Brentwood junior catcher Amelia Ayotte drove in six runs in the Eagles’ 24-0 win over Normandy on Sept. 9. She had two homers and scored four times during a 3-for-3 performance.
Ayotte is hitting .667 with a slugging percentage of 1.556 after four games for the Brentwood softball team (2-2).
BLUE JAY IN FLIGHT
Washington senior middle hitter Kassidy Phillips continues to pound home winners at a breakneck pace.
The 5-foot-11 inch jumping jack began the season by recording three successive matches with 11 kills or more. She pounded home 18 kills in a three-set win over Westminster on Sept. 7.
Phillips leads the area with 93 kills to help the Washington volleyball team to a 5-4 start.