With another dominating performance, Sullivan was the only area football team in Class 4 District 3 to survive the opening round.
The second-seeded Eagles (8-2) won for the eighth straight time, cruising to a 51-21 win over seventh-seeded St. Clair Thursday at Sullivan High School.
“We had some penalties and turnovers, so we have to fix that. Other than that, the intensity was good. The kids executed pretty well,” said Sullivan Head Coach Andy Arnette. “We preached to the kids to jump on them early and put them away as quickly as we could. Turnovers in the first half slowed us down, but we were still in a good spot. Our defense held them to no points in the first half, which was big.”
St. Clair (4-6) fell behind 14-0 after one quarter and 28-0 at halftime.
“They jumped on us early. I don’t know if we were in a daze. I felt like we were focused before the game and ready to play,” said St. Clair Head Coach Cody McDowell. “It’s different when you go from practice to game speed, especially when you’re facing what they have and a player like they have in (Justin) Biermann. He’s a good one. It’s hard to replicate that in practice.”
Sullivan will host third-seeded Westminster (8-2) in the district semifinals Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Wildcats defeated sixth-seeded Borgia, 46-6.
Top-seeded Ladue (9-1) hosts fifth-seeded Priory (6-4) in the other district semifinal contest.
“Westminster moves the ball well and has a lot of talent. They’re good. They’ve been ranked in the state all year,” Arnette said. “I’m glad we get to host. That was the best part about moving up from three to two in the district standings is getting to host that second game. That’s huge. Going on the road isn’t easy. It’s a tough district. Any one of these last four teams can come out of it.”
It was another big game for Sullivan on the ground.
Quarterback Justin Biermann and running back Joey Rigdon combined to score all seven of the Eagles’ touchdowns.
Biermann carried the ball 13 times for 251 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Rigdon rushed for 175 yards on 11 carries and scored three touchdowns.
“It all starts up front,” Arnette said. “Our linemen made some big holes and Joey and Justin broke tackles down field.”
St. Clair running back Skyler Hutchison carried the ball 17 times for 162 yards and one touchdown. He also had two receptions for 97 yards and one touchdown.
Quarterback Collin Scott threw two touchdown passes.
Sullivan jumped ahead 14-0 in the first quarter on touchdown runs of 27 yards by Rigdon and 13 yards by Biermann.
In the second quarter, Rigdon had a 67-yard touchdown run and Biermann added a 23-yard scoring run to increase the lead to 28-0 at halftime.
The Eagles extended their lead to 41-0 in the third quarter on touchdown runs of 32 yards by Rigdon and 83 yards by Biermann.
The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter on a four-yard touchdown pass from Scott to Evander Spinks.
Even with all the big runs, the highlight of the game for Sullivan may have been a 50-yard field goal by Jake Lochner early in the fourth quarter, making the score 44-7.
“Jake has done some awesome things this year,” Arnette said. “He kicked a 55-yarder the other day in practice. If it was 50 or in, I was letting him kick it. He got into it and got it through.”
Hutchison added a pair of touchdowns, a 62-yard reception from Scott followed by an 86-yard run to make the score 44-21.
The scoring ended on a 24-yard touchdown run by Biermann.
“Once you get down like that early, it takes you off script on both sides of the ball and you have to gamble more and take a few more chances, which usually is hit or miss,” McDowell said. “We’re a little beat up on the line. We had guys who were in there for the first time. We have one guy who everybody likes to key on. We tried to do some different things to open it up and didn’t do very well. It comes down to execution, and they did it better.”
St. Clair will begin working toward next season.
“We’re going to miss our seniors. There’s two or three of them who were anchors on both sides of the ball who will be tough to replace,” McDowell said. “We played three to four sophomores at a time and a lot of juniors. It’s one of those years where we just have to learn from what happened. This isn’t what anybody wanted, but hopefully the kids we have coming back will learn from this experience.”
St. Clair 0-0-7-14=21
Su-Joey Rigdon 27 run (Jake Lochner kick), 10:13
Su-Justin Biermann 13 run (Lochner kick), 3:41
Su-Rigdon 67 run (Lochner kick), 11:11
Su-Biermann 23 run (Lochner kick), 9:30
Su-Rigdon 32 run (kick failed), 9:58
Su-Biermann 83 run (Lochner kick), 6:43
Sc-Evander Spinks 4 pass from Collin Scott (Skyler Hutchison kick), :21
Su-Lochner 50 FG, 8:01
Sc-Hutchison 62 pass from Scott (Hutchison kick), 6:57
Sc-Hutchison 86 run (Hutchison kick), 4:20
Su-Biermann 24 run (Lochner kick), 2:11