HERRIN -- How impressive was Jackson Yates running the football Friday night for the Herrin Tigers in their 49-35 home win over Carterville?
The senior halfback carried the ball 20 times and amassed a stunning 327 yards, a new school record, eclipsing the previous record of 318 yards set by Rodney Jones against West Frankfort in 1971.
Yates, who averaged 16.3 yards per carry, also scored four touchdowns on runs of 74, 88, 65 and 42 -- all in the first half.
The senior has now totaled 487 yards in only two games or 243.5 yards per game. At that pace, he might just set some state records.
Yates had high praise for his offensive linemen.
"They're big and fast and so good that they make it pretty easy for me," he said.
Tigers head coach Jason Karnes was relieved to come away with the win.
"What a game to be involved in. Both teams have a lot of firepower," he said. "You have to credit the kids on both sides. It was in the mid 80s tonight and the air was thick with humidity. Give credit to Carterville. They have a great coaching staff. I respect their kids and their program so much."
Karnes then focused on Yates' night.
"I've been coaching 13 years as a head coach here and we've had some dandy All-State running backs, and Jackson puts himself in that class," Karnes said. "But he doesn't go anywhere without that line of ours. It all starts up front and the other backs blocking for him."
The turning point of the game came after Yates tied the score at 21 with 4:42 to play in the half.
Junior placekicker Jake Baumgarte, who was 7-of-7 on extra points, executed a perfectly placed pooch kick over the Carterville front line of the return team and the Tigers' Gunter Gosha recovered.
"I will say this ... I'm pretty vanilla. I don't do too much fancy stuff. I dialed it up myself.," Karnes said. "I had a lump in my throat. I just didn't feel like at the time that we could stop them right then. We've worked on it (onside kick) and Jake's a heck of a kicker. He placed it perfect and the speed of Gosha on the edge made it work. He got down there and made the play. That allowed us to take the momentum into halftime."
Tate Johnson followed the gutsy play call with a 40-yard TD run for a 28-21 Herrin lead and then extended that lead to 35-21 at the half when Yates bolted 42 yards for the score in their next possession.
Carterville never fully recovered, although the Lions refused to quit.
A 40-yard run by quarterback Keaton Pestka closed the gap to 35-27. Again, the Tigers countered. This time, on a 19-yard TD pass from Chance Karnes to Matt Brandon.
Carterville's Matthew Jones retaliated with an 8-yard run early in the fourth period, but Karnes negated that score with a 3-yard sneak for a TD -- the second straight week he has scored on a sneak near the goal line.
The Lions had big nights not only from Pestka (30 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns) and Jones (13 for 67 and a score) but also senior halfback Colin Laczynski, who romped for 183 yards on 14 carries and two scores with most of the damage coming in the first half.
Lions head coach Dennis Drust had no criticism of his team's play. In fact, he was more than pleased with the effort and execution of his ballclub against a perennial power in Herrin.
"It was actually a great game to coach and a great game to watch, I'm sure," he said. "The offensive line battled all night long and then flipped over and played defense. Our kids were tired early in the game, but never quit. And that's all you can ask.
"If we can continue to play like we did tonight and improve as much from Week 2 to Week 3 as we did from Week 1 to Week 2, we've got a shot," Drust said.
Herrin plays host to Du Quoin Friday.