Moline’s victory Friday over Alleman at Almquist Field mirrored its season – slow start; solid, if not, super finish.
Led by defensive lineman Tommy Parrish and linebacker Marcus Atnip the Maroon defense responded after allowing 10 first-quarter Alleman points and falling behind 10-7. Moline shut down the Pioneers the rest of the way.
Coupled with a Moline offensive attack that rushed for more than 300 yards and totaled 383 yards, Moline controlled Alleman and prevailed, 24-10, and with the victory claim the Western Big Six conference title outright. It’s the first time Moline has stood alone as conference champs since 2011. It was also the Maroons' sixth straight win.
“Oh my gosh,” gushed Moline coach Mike Morrissey of his Maroons (6-2, 5-0 in the Big Six), we were really opportunistic to create some turnovers and make some big plays.”
Alleman (5-3, 3-2) lost two fumbles and had an interception, two of the turnovers in the second half.
The Maroons also recovered from an 83-yard run by Alleman’s Corneille Logo on the first play from scrimmage to start the game, even though he scored from the 2 one play later to put Alleman up 7-0.
Key second-half defensive plays Friday night were an interception by Marcus Atnip at Moline’s 14, when Alleman was knocking on Moline’s door in the third quarter for a possible go-ahead score. A long drive followed, capped by a 32-yard field goal by Alex Rios to put Moline up 17-10. Atnip also had a hand in another big second-half play when Alleman QB Sam Mattecheck fumbled on a pitch play after Atnip grabbed him from behind and Jordan Rivera recovered. That led to an 11-yard drive capped by Eric Maffie’s 6-yard TD run, to ice the game at 24-10 with 8:33 left in the game
Ice it because Moline’s defense totally held Alleman at bay after the first quarter other than one more long Logo run of 62 yards in the third.
Atnip knew he had a shot at an interception near the sideline later in the third quarter.
“I saw the play coming,” Atnip said. “I was on the tight end coming out. He was going on a route. I was taught to stick with him and go with him. And I just grabbed it.”
Moline’s win Friday completed a comeback in the game and from an 0-2 start to the season in which it allowed DeKalb 49 points in its opener. It still kept faith even if that onslaught was on the heels of a defensive-plagued 2-7 season the year before.
“We have a good defensive coach,” said Atnip of Crick Sant Amour. “He always preaches to stay in our gaps and preaches responsibility. I feel we did a pretty good job on that tonight besides a couple of those big (Logo) plays.”
Alleman coach Todd Depoorter felt mistakes hurt Alleman in the hard-fought game, but he also had praise for Moline.
“We made some mistakes,” he said. “Give Moline credit. They played hard and did a nice job of adjusting to what we did. They executed very, very well. They were putting pressure on us (up front).”
In a well-played first half, Moline’s Eddie Doran scored two touchdowns on runs of two and six yards to help Moline to a 14-10 lead.
Moline’s TD drives were of 80 and 70 yards. Alleman opened the game with a three-play 88-yard drive, the bulk of it on Logo’s 83-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.
Alleman’s Patrick Schmitt connected on a 38-yard field goal, with 3:34 to go in the first quarter for a 10-7 Pioneer lead. But Moline countered with 4:38 to go in the half on Doran’s second TD to lead 14-10 at half.
Moline’s Aboubacar Barry led Moline with 139 yards on 17 carries in the first half and finished with 162 on 22.
Alleman was led by Logo’s 107 on six carries in the first half. He finished with 185 on 10.
But it was Moline’s night.
“It’s what we’ve been working for four years,” Doran said. “There’s nothing better.”