QUINCY — Down by two touchdowns halfway through the first quarter, the Moline Maroons appeared to be in a world of hurt.
The key word was appeared as this Moline team never worried about what the Quincy Blue Devils were going to do. They just knew what they expected to do.
And they did it very well, winning their second straight Western Big 6 Conference championship with a thrilling 28-21 win at Flinn Stadium on Friday.
"There was no panic at all," Moline running back Harrison Bey-Buie said. He finished the night with 34 carries for 226 yards and all four Moline touchdowns. "We knew we were fine and we were going to play."
Added defensive back Brady Stombaugh, "We knew we were fine because we knew the offense would get it going."
The defense did its job as well. The Maroons held Quincy to three second-half first downs and stopped superstar running back Jirehl Brock twice on fourth-and-one plays in the second half.
The biggest came when Quincy went to a swinging gate formation and Brock went under center. Adam Worley went one-on-one at the line and stopped Brock cold.
Moline then drove down the field to set up the winning TD by Bey-Buie from 3 yards out.
"I knew as soon as I saw him coming up to the line that he was going to take a quick snap and try to sneak it," Worley said. "It was man-on-man, and I knew I could beat him on the play."
The Blue Devils got off to exactly the start they wanted, taking the opening kickoff and running eight times for 60 yards and a Brock 7-yard TD run. Then, the Quincy defense got a quick turnover on a sack and strip on Moline quarterback Zidain Sterling.
Two plays later, Brock found some free room, made another of his highlight-film cuts and went 47 yards for a TD to make it 14-0 and ran the Quincy streak to 25 straight first-half possessions ending in a TD.
Another strip sack and fumble recovery against Sterling put the Maroons in a precarious spot. The defense got the stop, forced the third punt of the season for Quincy and then went 65 yards on 15 plays with Bey-Buie scoring from a yard out.
Keys on that drive were a Sterling to Bey-Buie 3-yard pass on fourth and 3 and Bey-Buie 2-yard run on fourth and 2.
Moline's defense stepped forward again on the next possession and got the ball back to the offense. Bey-Buie had his own highlight run, stutter-stepping a defender at the 30 and going 47 yards for the game-tying TD.
Getting the ball back with two minutes left in the half, Brock had a big run of 15 into Moline territory. Then, he got a huge block from Adonte Crider to get to the edge and then the senior tight-roped the sideline 33 yards for his third score of the first half.
Moline had to avoid getting hurt by four turnovers and did so by keeping the Quincy offense off the field while Bey-Buie and Aboubacar Barry (19 carries for 148 yards) did the rest.
Moline wound up running 68 plays to 41 for Quincy.
"The most carries I had ever had was 28, but I knew I was built for this moment," Bey-Buie said. "Everything I have worked for and we have worked for came together in this game."