Trailing by 20 points at the half, the Collinsville football team showed little sign of life and no hint that it was about to embark upon a spirited, comeback 28-27 victory.
The Kahoks (1-3, 1-1 Southwestern Conference) took only three second-half offensive plays to serve notice to Granite City (1-3, 0-2 SWC) that it was not intimidated by a 27-7 halftime deficit. Zach Hammel-Brown carried the ball two times for 25 yards on the first two plays, before quarterback Jordan Reichert broke through the line, found the right sideline and outran the defense for a 52-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 27-14.
Collinsville’s defense held the Warriors without a first down in their first three second-half possessions. The Kahoks scored two touchdowns on their first three possessions.
After Granite City turned the ball over on downs with 3 minutes 59 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Collinsville could muster no offense, totaling -1 yards on three plays, moving forward only with the help of a Granite City penalty. On fourth down and six from their own 48, Reichert fired a slant to Chris Ogan, who snagged the pass and sprinted 52 yards untouched for a touchdown. The extra point did not have enough distance to reach the uprights, so the Kahoks trailed 27-20 with 1:33 remaining in the third quarter.
The Warriors followed with a 15-play, 4:17 drive to reach Kahoks 15 yard line, before moving back to the 21. Granite City quarterback Gabe Jarman threw a beautiful 4th and 8 pass to a receiver at the goal line, but, like the entire second half for the Warriors, the play ended in frustration.
Sean Bonham, a 5 foot 7, 145-pound sophomore, made one of the plays of the game when he sprinted down the middle of the field, dove toward the goal line and tipped the ball away from the Granite City wide receiver to save a touchdown and the game. Bonham intercepted a pass in the first half and was soon to make an impact on the offensive side of the ball.
Collinsville took possession of the ball and embarked on the kind of game-winning drive that Head Coach John Blaylock loves. The Kahoks’ 17-play, 79-yard, 5:10 touchdown drive featured four ball carriers and no complete passes.
Blaylock said in the second half his team lined up in their base formation with three backs and challenged the Warriors.
“We just said ‘here it comes, what are you going to do about it?’ and it worked,” Blaylock said.
Thanks to penalties, the Kahoks amassed 92 rushing yards during the game-winning drive. Jamal Wellmaker ran for 41 yards, followed by Bonham’s 21, Riechert’s 20 and Hammel-Brown’s 10.
Bonham’s 21 yards came on a fourth and 13 from the Granite City 42 when he took an inside handoff and broke through the line virtually untouched to keep the drive alive. An inspired Wellmaker run for 13 yards had the Kahoks at the Granite City 8-yard line and in position to secure its first victory of the season.
The Kahoks were penalized 15 yards on the next play to move the ball back to the 23-yard line. Two plays later, Wellmaker took the ball around right end, sprinted down the right sideline and stutter stepped a defender to take the ball to the 1-yard line. Riechert followed with his third rushing touchdown of the day to pull CHS to within one point at 27-26 with 3:01 remaining.
Blaylock elected to go for the two-point conversion, which Reichert promptly converted, before the play was called back for illegal formation. With the ball at the 8-yard line, Blaylock still elected to attempt the two-point conversion rather than the extra point for the tie.
“We had to go for two,” Blaylock said. “We had done too much.”
On a repeat of the fourth and 13 play earlier in the drive, Bonham took a handoff and ran between the left guard and left tackle, rolling into the end zone for his final heroic act of the evening.
The Warriors were not going to give up without a fight. On a second and nine play on the next possession, Jarman completed a pass to a receiver who raced 44 yards to the Kahoks’ 49 before Jacob Gass knocked the football free. Mark Garcia pounced on the ball with 2:20 remaining. Wellmaker’s 12-yard, third and nine run on the final possession sealed the victory for Collinsville.
Blaylock said he told his team after the game that a comeback like his team had just completed was rare.
“A team gets down like that and they typically go to sleep,” Blaylock said. “Our boys didn’t go to sleep tonight.”
Granite jumped out the commanding first half lead on Jarman touchdown passes of 19 and 32 yards to Ron Allen, to go along with a touchdown run of 15 yards from the junior quarterback and a 75-yard run from Shawn Marcovic. Reichert’s 6-yard keeper was the first score of the contest.
The difference in the game was a blocked extra point following a Granite City touchdown with 57 seconds remaining in the first half.
Wellmaker led CHS with 119 yards rushing to more than double his season output. Reichert added 117 yards. Hammel-Brown ran for 38 of his 51 yards on the second half. Collinsville rushed for 336 yards in the game to nearly double its season total.
Reichert completed 5 of 12 passes for 77 yards and one touchdown.
All statistics are unofficial.