• Dave McKenzie

When a Loss Feels Like A Win...Kinda

Photo: Christopher Kay - The Southern

What a game!

Friday night under the lights at "the graveyard" as it's known, there was one hell-of-a football game played by cross-county rivals Herrin Tigers and the Carterville Lions.

Both teams were coming off opening night wins as the Tigers beat Waterloo 23-7 and the Lions knocked off the Benton Rangers 20-7.

I don't believe there was anyone in Southern Illinois that expected the type of game that developed between these two rivals, that wound up with a total of 84 points scored between them.

Photo: Christopher Kay - The Southern

In their opening drive, the Lions took off on fifteen play drive that started at their own 29 yard line. After holding the ball for over five minutes, Lions QB Keaton Pestka kept the ball and put the Lions up 6-0 after the one-yard run. Laczynski's extra point was good and the Lions lead 7-0.

Jackson Yates answered on the Tigers next possession with a 63 yard touchdown run and after the point after, the game was tied at 7-7.

The first half continued back and forth until with the game tied at 21-21, Tigers Head coach Jason Karnes called for an onside kick and the Tigers recovered at the Lions forty yard line. This was the turning point of the game as one play later Tate Johnson ran for a 40 yard touch-down and the Tigers take the lead for good 28-21 with four minutes left in the half.

Photo: Christopher Kay - The Southern

The Lions were able to pull within seven points with 8:53 left in the fourth when Matt Jones scored on a 8 yard run, but the Tigers put the game away for good after a Chance Karnes three yard td run with 3:14 left in the game.

Here are the highlights for the Lions against the Tigers.

After the game, a very proud and emotional Coach Dennis Drust was incredibly proud of his Carterville Lion squad.

If you are a Carterville fan, you have to be very very happy with how the Lions played on the road at Herrin, despite the loss.

I cannot talk enough about how well this team played. The offensive line blew open huge holes for the running game of Keaton Pestka, Collin Laczynski and Matt Jones to get through. Huge props to Matt who came in an replaced Collin late in the first half. With his performance, Coach D has three quality runners in the backfield.

Don't forget most of the starters for the Lions go both ways on offense and defense, so in hard fought game like this one, fatigue has to play a roll.

Bottom line: Even though a loss is a loss and they are hard to find something positive, this loss had numerous positives to take from it.

I am very optimistic about how this Lions team should compete the rest of the season. They have imroved so much in the first two weeks, the Lions should hold their own when conference play begins.

Way to go boys...that was a great game!