In a game that saw no fewer than eight lead changes, it was Carterville that ultimately came from behind to beat Du Quoin 28-26 Friday night in the Lions Den.
"It was a very good ballgame against a good football team who is going to be a 4A playoff team," said Du Quoin Coach Derek Beard. "We came up short, but you learn from it and move on."
Du Quoin fell to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the SIRR Mississippi Division while Carterville improved to 3-1 and 1-0 in the conference standings. The Indians return home this week to host Pinckneyville (0-4, 0-0 Mississippi), which is coming off a 46-20 loss at home to Olney Richland County.
"Because of our quarantine we had about 10 guys who had only one full practice before the game," Beard said, "and to perform the way we did was a great accomplishment. With the performance we had we thought we could have won the game."
After winning in Week 1 against Chester, Du Quoin forfeited the Week 2 game against Harrisburg during a COVID quarantine flare-up at Du Quoin High School. In Week 3, the Indians were missing a third of the team but managed an impressive 26-23 win over Herrin.
Du Quoin was back to full strength against the Carterville Lions. Quarterback David Lee came off of quarantine and returned to the lineup to complete 7-of-14 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. The senior also led the team in scoring with two touchdowns and in rushing with 66 yards on 19 carries.
"Going in we wanted to run the ball, which is nothing out of the ordinary for us," Beard said. "Our offensive line blocked well and Lee was a workhorse for us getting tough yards with a lot of quarterback sneaks and quarterback power."
Nishan Woody got Du Quoin off to a good start recovering a fumble at the Lions 20 and five plays later Gabe Adams scored from the 4. The extra-point kick failed. and the Indians were up 6-0 just 2:35 into the game.
After losing another fumble, the Lions finally got on track on their third possession, completing a 13-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Townsend Barton. The kick was good, and the Lions took the lead, 7-6.
The Indians went on a 13-play drive of their own to retake the lead on a 4-yard run by Lee. The kick missed, and the Indians went into halftime up 12-7.
The third quarter opened with Carterville scoring on a one-yard run by Lions quarterback Andrew Hellriegel. The kick was good and the Lions led 14-12.
The Indians came right back with a one-yard touchdown by Lee. This time the Indians went for two with Camden Waller connecting with tight end Ethan Hill to put Du Quoin up 20-14.
The Lions responded with a 56-yard touchdown run by Barton. Following the extra point kick Carterville led 21-20 going into the fourth quarter.
With 5:58 remaining in the game Lee connected with Hill for a 31-yard touchdown pass, but the two-point conversion failed. The Indians had a 26-21 lead.
"We were running the ball real well and got down to the 15-yard line when they called us for a holding penalty to back us up," Beard said. "We ended up in a 4th-and-26 after that and ran an unbalanced formation that had our tight end in the tackle position. I think they were a little confused by it and we were able to hit our tight end down the middle for a touchdown."
Carterville got the ball back and advanced to the Indian 46 where in short order they were facing 4th and 13. The make or break play came down to a pass to Barton or Peyton Bittle, who had fumbled to open the game to set up Du Quoin's first touchdown.
"Our defense played great," Beard said. "We had them in a 3rd-and-7 and Waylon Mydler came up with a big sack."
The play went to Bittle for the winning touchdown with 1:47 remaining. The extra point kick was good giving the Lions a two-point lead. Bittle had a monster game with six catches for 104 yards. Barton finished with four catches for 88 yards.
"We gave up that big play there and it was costly," Beard said. "We had a busted coverage. They ended up running a post with Barton and a wheel with Bittle and we left the wheel wide open."
Following the kickoff Du Quoin had one last chance, but turned the ball over at their own 39 allowing Carterville to run out the clock.
"We completed one pass for seven or eight yards and completed the second for about five yards, but our receiver fumbled just trying to fight for extra yardage with under a minute and 30 seconds left to play," Beard said.
Hellriegel was almost perfect completing 12-of-13 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The junior was also the Lions leading rusher with 80 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown.
Du Quoin 6 6 8 6 -- 26
Carterville 0 7 14 7 -- 28
First downs: DQ 16; CTV 15.
Penalties/Yards: DQ 2/20; CTV 1/10.
Fumbles/Lost: DQ 1/1; CTV 3/2.
DQ rushing: David Lee, 19-66-2TD; Jonathan Hamilton, 6-63; Nick Brown, 12-46; Gabe Adams, 4-16-1TD; Elijah Jones 1-(-2). CTV rushing: Andrew Hellriegel, 18-80-1TD; Nolan Hartford, 15-44; Bryce Smith, 1-13; Townsend Barton, 4-13-1TD; Ethan Lannom 2-4; Peyton Bittle 1-(-3).
DQ passing: David Lee, 7-14 for 72 yards, 0 int, 1TD. CTV passing: Andrew Hellriegel, 12-13 for 197 yards, 0 int, 2TD.
DQ receiving: Jaden Smith, 2-20; Nishan Woody, 2-10; Ethan Hill, 1-31-1TD; Gage Green, 1-7; Nick Brown, 1-4. CTV receiving: Peyton Bittle 6-104-1TD; Townsend Barton 4-88-1TD; Jaron Luttenbacher 1-3; Nolan Hartford 1-2.