Size is important.
Carbondale has athletes, but the Belleville Althoff Crusaders football team had plenty of size Friday night.
The Crusaders started 6-foot, 5-inch, 295-pound Jordyn Slaughter and 6-foot, 8-inch, 340-pound Patrick Ahrens at the offensive tackle positions Friday and equally elephantine players on its defensive line.
Friday night’s game was fairly even in the first half, but the size difference seemed to wear on the Terriers in the final two quarters.
“We had great effort out there tonight,” said Carbondale Coach Bryan Lee. “But their size wore us down by the latter part of the game.”
Even though the Terriers had been shocked by a one-game suspension of quarterback Jakeba Burleigh and his backup Seth Germann leaving the team this past week, little-used senior Seth Ousley stepped up a did a more than credible job behind center.
Ousley (who usually plays DB) threw for 128 yards. Carbondale wide receiver Shandon Scott-Rivers caught four of Ousley’s tosses. Carbondale could never get their running game going, (only 33 total yards rushing) and turnovers were very costly.
In the first quarter, Belleville jumped on top at the 8:58 point when Althoff kicking Phenom Stone Galloway banged a 42-yard field goal to make it 3-0 Crusaders. At least the Terrier defense held the prolific Althoff offense to a field goal. In fact, the only touchdown for Althoff had until very late in the second quarter was the result of a Terrier turnover.
With 24 seconds left in the first quarter, SIU recruit Justin Strong took a blocked Terrier punt to the house to make it 10-0 Crusaders at the end of one.
At the 10:19 point of the second quarter, Carbondale defensive back Tavaris Macklin picked up a Crusader fumble and returned the favor, running 55 yards with the Belleville turnover to make it 10-6 Belleville.
But Strong struck again. This time he intercepted an Ousley pass and returned it 75 yards to make the score 17-6 Belleville. That was the prelude to a wild end to the second quarter as Ousley to Scott-Rivers made it 17-14 Althoff.
Then, with 5:14 left in the first half, Strong got his third touchdown on offense this time, with a 17-yard rushing score.
And that, (24-14) was as close as the game was the rest of the way. It was 27-14 after three quarters.
Then the roof caved in the fourth when the Terriers defense was obviously gassed.
Belleville outscored Carbondale 21-7 in that last period. Strong picked off another pass for a score and Belleville’s running back Richard Cosey had a 10-yard scoring jaunt. Cosey led all rushers with 121 yards.
Strong said the Carbondale game was a high priority for his team since the week before his Crusaders had been upset by Centralia.
“We didn’t take the Centralia game as seriously as we should have and so we got beat (21-14),” said Strong.
Next up for the Terriers are two straight home games. This coming Friday night Carbondale meets South Seven Conference co-leader Marion and then finish the season with a home contest against Harrisburg Oct. 20.