Friday Night Lights rewind: Mustangs make defensive stand, Cardinals keep rolling, Blue Devils crumble rival

Unity football

The Unity-Payson football team made a defensive stand inside the 10-yard line to cement a 22-21 victory over Brown County last week. | Photo courtesy Sarah Donley photography

QUINCY — A defensive stand could be the difference between making the playoffs and putting the gear away early.

That depends on how the Unity-Payson football team seizes the momentum of last week’s victory.

Brown County drove to the Mustangs’ 6-yard line and faced third and four with two minutes remaining in regulation. A fumbled handoff was recovered by the Hornets, but it left them facing fourth and 7 from the 9-yard line.

The Hornets lined up in their traditional Wing-T formation before calling timeout. Brown County lined up for a field goal following the timeout, but instead ran a fake kick and tried to throw a pass to the left side of the end zone. The pass fell incomplete, giving the Mustangs a 22-21 victory last Thursday in Mendon, Ill.

It was the first victory of the season for Unity-Payson, leaving it needing four victories over the final six weeks to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season. The Mustangs face state-ranked Camp Point Central at 6 p.m. Saturday and go to Jacksonville Routt the following week.

However, the final four opponents on the Mustangs’ schedule are a combined 2-10, making a playoff push a possibility.

Brown County may have a little more trouble. The Hornets (0-3) must win five of their final six games to become playoff eligible. Three of their final six opponents have winning records, and they have to go to Central on Sept. 22.

Setting up a showdown

The South Shelby football team took care of its end of the deal in dominant fashion. Monroe City had a little more trouble on its end.

To set up an undefeated Clarence Cannon Conference showdown between two state-ranked teams, the Cardinals had to bypass Brookfield in last Friday’s conference opener. No problem there as South Shelby won 51-6 to improve to 3-0.

Cameron Wiseman had four carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns, while Chase Moellering completed 4 of 7 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 115 yards and two scores. Kendal Hammond rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown and caught a 72-yard touchdown pass.

The Cardinals, ranked ninth in Class 2, are averaging 49 points and more than 400 yards per game heading into Friday’s matchup with the fourth-ranked Panthers, who had to rally for a 30-14 victory over Highland. The teams will square off at 7 p.m. Friday in Shelbina.

Blue Devils on right side of rivalry

Last Friday’s 41-7 victory at Rock Island’s Almquist Field gave the Quincy High School football team back-to-back victories over the Rocks for only the third time in program history. The Blue Devils won 47-42 last season.

Quincy beat Rock Island three consecutive times from 2016-18, winning the Western Big 6 Conference title in 2016. The Blue Devils won 52-37 in 2016, 29-15 in 2017 and 46-6 in 2018. They also beat the Rocks in 1973 and ’74, winning the league both times as well. In 1973, Quincy won 20-17 and then 15-6 in 1974.

The 88 points scored by Quincy in the 2022 and ’23 victories is more combined points than the Blue Devils scored against Rock Island in 10 consecutive losses to the Rocks from 1996-2005. Overall, the Rocks won 23 straight meetings with the Blue Devils from 1987-2009. In that span, the Rocks outscored the Blue Devils 703-211 or an average of 30.6 to 9.2.

Quincy has won five of the last seven meetings against Rock Island, scoring 260 points in that stretch.

Correction on QND’s start

Historical research regarding the Quincy Notre Dame football team’s 0-3 start was inaccurate in last Saturday’s game story. The Raiders are 0-3 for the first time since 2018 when they started 0-4 and went 3-6. They rebounded the following season to go 9-4 and reach the state semifinals.

Prior to that, the Raiders hadn’t started 0-3 since 1996 when they lost their first four games and finished 4-5. They rebounded to go 8-3 in 1997 and reach the second round of the playoffs.

Quote of the week

“We thought it would be an easy win. They showed us no team is easy to beat. It was a dogfight.” — Monroe City’s Abram Smyser after the Panthers rallied to beat Highland 30-14.

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