Interim head coach Steve Trimble said it best when he gathered his players on the field after Johnson Central defeated Cahokia, Illionois 42-36 in overtime Saturday afternoon.
“Coach Matney would be proud of you guys.” Trimble said.
And he was certainly right.
The Golden Eagles, in their first home game of the season – and first game without Matney on the sidelines – came down to the wire in a thrilling 42–36 victory over Cahokia in overtime.
Both teams exchanged offensive blows throughout all four quarters of action and were tied up at 36-36 heading into overtime.
Johnson Central won the coin toss in overtime and elected to defend. The Golden Eagles defense, who had given up a few big plays in the game, was put to the test to stop the passing attack from Cahokia.
Cahokia’s offense started OT on the Johnson Central 10-yard line. Joviano Howards received the hand off left, and came crushing down to the two yard line and was stopped by the Golden Eagle defense. The following play saw quarterback Omarion Gooden run up the gut for no gain. Again the Comanche’s signal caller was unable to convert. Now faced with fourth and three, the Comanche’s went through the air. The pass from Gooden went through the hands of Marquis Allen giving the Golden Eagles a chance to ice the game.
It took just two plays.
Matt Crum took the handoff from Grant Rice and rumbled half of the distance to the goal, making it second and goal at the five-yard line. The following play had Carter Conley do the same, making it in for the TD and the win in overtime.
“I just have to thank my teammates and my coaches, man. I just got in there, followed my blocks. I’m so thankful for my team. We miss Coach Matney, but we did this for him.” The lone scorer in overtime for either team, Carter Conley said after the game. Conley had a big game, with three TDs on the ground including the game winner in overtime. With both Mason Lawson and Zack McCoart down with injuries sustained earlier in the game, it was up to players like Crum and Conley to help carry the offense.
The Golden Eagles had started off the game strong on offense, driving 67 yards on the opening drive capped off by a McCoart TD run, but the following play saw special teams make a mistake that cost the Golden Eagles.
Immediately after the TD with a 7–0 lead, the Golden Eagles did what appeared to be an onside kick, and with the other team caught off guard, the Golden Eagles rushed to the ball – but hesitated to jump on it to gain possession. This gave Cahokia another chance with a short field resulting in a TD. This, along with a failed fourth down conversion by the Eagles with 46 seconds left in the half had Johnson Central trailing 22–15 and needing some big plays.
“It took us a while to get started. I feel like at half time, we hadn’t played very well,” Trimble said. “In the second half they really showed their character. These kids aren’t just good athletes, they’re good people. It’s a blessing to work with them.”
The second half indeed saw the Golden Eagles clamp down on defense, getting a big stop and allowing the offense a chance to catch up.
After the big stop on defense, the offense got the spark they needed when Lawson broke free for a 94 yard TD run. The extra point by Sawyer Crum tied it up at 22-22 with 10:08 left in the third quarter.
The two teams would trade scoring drives until the final deciding TD in overtime.
Coach Trimble said he didn’t feel much pressure from anyone, other than coach Matney for the game. “Only pressure I had on me was to not disappoint Jim Matney,” Trimble said. “I’m just here to step in until Coach Matney gets better. I have no pressure on me whatsoever. I just don’t want him to wake up and see these films and say ‘Coach Trimble you did a terrible job.’”
Trimble continued to pass credit along to Matney, the assistant coaches, and players.
“This isn’t my win; it’s his win,” Trimble said. “He prepared these kids and these coaches. All I did was step in and it was just a blessing to be able to help.”