CHAMPAIGN — After Friday's 24-21 win against St. Thomas More on Friday, the white uniform of Watseka's Austin Blair was so muddy you could hardly distinguish that the maroon numbers on his jersey read "30."
And that's just the way he wanted it.
"On the bus, we were hoping for rain, we love mud bowls," Blair said.
Blair might be understating it. He took advantage of the slick track at Henneman Field, running for 191 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries to lead the Warriors to the come-from-behind win.
"He's a workhorse and he's got heart. He played football tonight," Watseka coach Steve Lucas said. "He never comes off the field, doesn't complain. If I had 11 of him, we'd be 2A state champs without a doubt."
Blair also caught one of two passes quarterback Daulton DePatis completed for an 11-yard touchdown.
"He's one of the best backs in the area, by far," STM coach Dan Hennessey said. "His motor doesn't stop. We prepared for him all week and we knew sooner or later he was going to crack one."
The Warriors (3-0) trailed 14-12 entering the fourth quarter before Blair scored on runs of 2 and 60 yards.
The Sabers got a 28-yard touchdown pass from Storm Joop (129 passing yards, 79 rushing yards) to Kevin Carroll (three receptions, 66 yards) with two minutes left. But after forcing a three-and-out, Joop's desperation heave in the final minute was intercepted.
"We didn't give up," Hennessey said. "That's a great Watseka team. They got some breaks and they just kept playing."
Nate Stringer scored on a 10-yard run for the Sabers (2-1) and A.J. Young returned a fumble 14 yards for another touchdown.
"They've got hearts like lions. They were hitting, that's a tough football team," Lucas said of St. Thomas More. (Carroll) is the best receiver in the conference. They're going to win seven, eight football games."