It’s there, and then it isn’t.
The dream of all return men, a clear hole to the end zone. Blink and you will miss it though.
Crete-Monee’s Elijah Douglas saw it Saturday at Rich East.
“Everything opens up, and you’ve got to shoot through that hole quick,” Douglas said. “It closes up real quick. You can hit people, but you want to make people miss and get that score.”
It all came together perfectly for Douglas on his 79-yard kickoff return touchdown in the second quarter Saturday, the score blowing open a close game in Crete-Monee’s 53-12 Southland win over Rich East in Park Forest.
The special teams score was the second of the game for the Warriors following Deon Benton’s 86-yard kickoff return to start the game.
“Wednesday is our special teams day, and we reiterated their importance,” Crete-Monee coach John Konecki said. “We want to be aggressive in all three aspects of our game, but our special teams can be really dynamic.”
Douglas’ return came after Crete (4-1, 1-0) blew an early 18-0 lead, Rich East scoring two quick touchdowns to get as close as 18-12 in the second.
Following the Rockets’ second score, Douglas housed the following kickoff, running up the middle and getting to the right side unscathed to put the Warriors up 26-12 with 5:40 remaining in the second quarter.
“The last two weeks we weren’t really good on special teams,” Douglas said. “The blocking keyed it, and we worked at it all week in practice.”
Crete-Monee scored 35 unanswered points to end the game. Frank Douglas finished an efficient 12-of-16 for 113 yards and two touchdowns, Anthony Townsend (32 yards) and Carlos Baker (33 yards) the recipients. Trevon Smith had just six carries for the Warriors but racked up 149 yards and a rushing score, a 31-yarder in the first quarter.
Tommie Harris had two rushing scores for the Warriors who were coming off a disappointing 30-6 home loss to Benet last week.
“The win puts our team back where we needed to be,” Smith said. “As a family, that loss helped bring us together. We needed that loss because we’re focused now. It brought us back together.”
Marcel McDonald finished with 95 rushing yards on 17 carries for Rich East (0-5, 0-1) with a touchdown, a 48-yard scamper with 5:52 left in the second. Douglas returned the following kickoff for the score.
Marquise Phipps scooped up a Frank Douglas fumble and returned it 36 yards for the score for the Rockets.