There were plenty of highlight reel moments at Lloyd Hill Field on Friday, Sept. 13, but unfortunately for the host Litchfield Purple Panthers, too many of them were performed by the visitors from Southwestern High School.
The Piasa Birds scored the first 29 points of the game on Friday, en route to a 54-12 victory on Litchfield's home turf.
The series that broke up the shutout was one of the bright spots for the Panthers, though. Getting the ball on their own 35, Litchfield went to the air with Clayton Walch connecting on a 40-yard strike to Colin Becker for a first down in Piasa Bird territory.
After a run for a loss, Walch found Becker again, this time for 30 yards as the sophomore wide receiver shook free of a Southwestern defender and reached the back of the end zone.
With 3:12 to play, the goal for Litchfield was to avoid any further damage in the first half, but a Southwestern drive featuring a 38-yard run by Blake Funk ended with the sophomore running back scampering in from 11 yards out to make it 36-6 at the break.
Any hopes of a Litchfield comeback were put to rest early as Southwestern scored with 10:11 to play on a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown by Gavin Day to make it 42-6. Four minutes later, Algenon Wilson made it 48-6 to start the running clock.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Southwestern added six more to their lead on a 25-yard run by Quinton Strohbeck, but Litchfield would find the promised land once again before the end of the game.
With a steady diet of runs by Clayton Walch, Emiliano McGill, Charlie Rayphole and Blake Quinn, Litchfield worked their way from their own 47 to the Southwestern nine yard line.
Freshman Brayden Fowler would get the call on the next two plays, dragging several defenders with him on his second carry for Litchfield's second touchdown.
With 56 seconds to play, Southwestern took a knee once they got the ball back and took their 54-12 victory back to Macoupin County.
Litchfield would finish the game with 95 yards passing, led by Walch with 29 yards on seven carries and Drew Hartzel with 19 yards on 11 carries. Walch also threw for 68 yards on six completions.
Friday marked the first time that Litchfield had scored twice in a game since week eight of 2017, when they lost to Pana by an identical 54-12 final score.
Funk ran for 153 yards and three touchdowns for Southwestern, while Sam Wolff passed for two more scores and 79 yards.
Litchfield will take on Staunton next week on the Bulldogs' home field. Staunton is 1-2 on the season after falling to Vandalia in week three by a 49-0 final score.
September 13 at Litchfield
Southwestern 16 20 12 6 54
Litchfield 0 6 0 6 12
1st: Southwestern - Blake Funk 5-yard run (2pt. conversion good)
1st: Southwestern - Pauly Garrett 35-yard pass from Sam Wolff (2pt. conversion good)
2nd: Southwestern - Adam Bates 32-yard pass from Sam Wolff (2pt. conversion failed)
2nd: Southwestern - Blake Funk 72-yard run (Collin Robinson kick good)
2nd: Litchfield - Colin Becker 30-yard pass from Clayton Walch (2pt. conversion failed)
2nd: Southwestern - Blake Funk 11-yard run (Collin Robinson kick good)
3rd: Southwestern - Gavin Day 60-yard punt return (kick failed)
3rd: Southwestern - Algenon Wilson 1-yard run (kick failed)
4th: Southwestern - Quinton Strohbeck 25-yard run (2pt. conversion failed)
4th: Litchfield - Brayden Fowler 4-yard run (2pt. conversion failed)
Passing: Clayton Walch 6-18-68.
Rushing: Clayton Walch 7-29, Drew Hartzell 11-19, Charlie Rayphole 5-16, Emiliano McGill 3-15, Brayden Fowler 2-9, Blaine Stewart 1-9, Blake Quinn 1-(-2).
Receiving: Colin Becker 2-70, Drew Hartzell 2-4, Charlie Rayphole 1-(-2), Blaine Stewart 2-(-4).
Defense (Solo/Assists): Dylan Maxwell 8/3; Hunter Nieman 5/0; Clayton Walch 3/2; Drew Hartzell 1/4; Charlie Rayphole 3/0; Jefferson Thomas 2/1; Josh Zumwalt 1/2; Quincy Washington 2/0; Blaine Stewart 1/0; Josh Adams 1/0; Blake Quinn 1/0; Emiliano McGill 0/1.