EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - After last year's five-turnover, 21-point loss to St. Rita's in the City of Champions Classic, the Jefferson City Jays were going to pull out all the stops to make sure this year's trip turned out better.
They did just that.
Jefferson City (2-0) used a fake field goal and forced four turnovers to knock off Chicago-Simeon 21-14 Sunday afternoon in East St. Louis, Ill.
"We came down with the attitude we were going to do anything it took to win this game," Jays' head coach Ted LePage said.
That was obvious from the start. Jefferson City led 7-0 in the second quarter and faced a fourth down from its own 16-yard line. Ryan Tanner came out to attempt a field goal.
But after a Simeon timeout, Jefferson City decided to run a fake. Instead of Tanner kicking, Jack Young took the snap and lofted a pass to a wide open Scott Stegeman who took it into the end zone to give Jefferson City a 14-0 lead.
LePage credited special team's coach Mike Hall, who noticed during the week they might be able to pull off a fake.
"They called timeout and I said "run it,' and Hall said "kick it?' and I go "no run it,'" LePage said. "We didn't come down here to play pattycake, we came down here to win this game. And (Hall) said, "that's why I like you.'"
Jefferson City took a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard run by Devon Moore with 10:43 left in the second quarter.
After the fake made it 14-0, Simeon answered at the end of the half with an 80-yard touchdown drive. The Wolverines stopped the clock with four seconds left on a first down at the 1-yard line. When the clock restarted after the chains were set, Simeon was called for a false start. But no time went off the clock. The clock did not restart until the next play when Simeon scored a touchdown to make it 14-7.
The Jefferson City coaches talked to the officials when they left the field at halftime, but LePage did not say what was discussed.
The Jays didn't let it bother them however. They took a 21-7 lead with 8:44 left in the third on a 10-yard run by quarterback Thomas LePage. That capped an eight play 40-yard drive.
Simeon (0-2) made things interesting in the fourth. The Jays needed just two first downs to run out the clock, but a fumble on third and short gave the Wolverines new life. They capitalized on the next play with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Elcee Burke to Paris Ratliff to make it 21-14 with 1:56 remaining. It was Jefferson City's second turnover.
With two timeouts left, the Wolverines decided to kick it long, instead of an onside kick. The Jays picked up a first down to run out the clock and secured the victory.
Jefferson City's defense played a big hand in the win. The Jays forced four turnovers, including interceptions from Chris Sutton, Joey Burkett and Noah Livingston. Nathan Beckman blocked a punt for the Jays.
"We felt like if we won the turnover battle, and won it convincingly, we'd win the game," LePage said. And thank goodness we did."
LePage was happy with how the team executed.
"For the most part, we executed what we wanted to get done," LePage said. "That is a very explosive team. That's a big physical team. We're excited about the win."
Notes: Thomas LePage finished 9-of-13 passing for 119 yards. He was named the offensive MVP of the game by the City of Champions Classic. Jack Young won the defensive award. ... Jefferson City had 227 yards of offense, but had seven penalties for 60 yards. ... Simeon quarterback, and Arkansas recruit Robert Gregory did not play after suffering a broken collarbone. ... Devon Moore finished with 75 yards on 25 carries. ... The Jays host Hazelwood East at 7 p.m. Friday for the home opener.