Edwardsville used the ground game to punish Bradley-Bourbonnais 42-0 Saturday afternoon in the second round of the IHSA Class 7A football playoffs.
The victory sets up a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals between the Tigers (11-0) and Lincoln-Way East (9-2) in Edwardsville.
Saturday’s game was all Edwardsville from the opening kickoff, which set the Tigers up at their own 43. Edwardsville then drove 57 yards in seven plays, capped by a two-yard keeper by junior quarterback Dan Marinko.
It is rarely a good sign for a defense when the strong safety leads the team in tackles, as senior Malik Spears did for Bradley (7-4).
“They blocked really well,” said Spears, who plans to attend Valparaiso University.
He was credited with seven solo tackles and an assist.
The Tigers’ offensive line blocked well enough for Edwardsville to pile up 329 yards of offense in the first half with 187 yards coming on the ground and 142 through the air on 8-for-10 passing by Marinko. The 6-3 Hayden Schmidt had three first-half catches for 52 yards.
“The offensive line is executing better,” Tigers coach Matt Martin said.
That may help explain a surprisingly strong running game.
He also said the wind (blowing cross field from the Bradley sideline strong enough to straighten flags) and defensive formations by the Boilermakers favored the ground game over passing.
“It’s tough on the defense, when you can’t move the ball [offensively],” Bradley coach Mike Kohl said. “They did a great job of possessing the football.”
And protecting the ball. The Tigers had no turnovers and the offense worked nearly as flawlessly.
In the second quarter, the Tigers pushed across four more touchdowns for a halftime lead of 35-0. D’Anthony Knight had touchdown runs of two and seven yards. Elijah Crockett, who rushed for 142 yards, had a one-yard touchdown and Marinko added another of three yards.
The running clock came with 7:58 to play in the third quarter when Marinko hit Darius Crochrell for a 40-yard touchdown.
Offensively, the Boilermakers just could not do much. Junior quarterback Gionte Mason did rush for 67 yards and LJ Harris caught three passes for 19 yards.
“They are a better football team than we are,” Kohl said.
It is also where Kohl would like to see the Boilermakers going.
“The senior class turned this program around,” Kohl said.
Bradley last reached the second round of the playoffs in 2005.