ALTON, Ill. -- Challenged at halftime Friday night, the Alton football team faced gut-check time in the fourth quarter.
Either make the necessary plays or be faced with an 0-2 start to the season with daunting games looming on the schedule.
Alton's defense held Quincy in check for most of the game, and Alton's offense answered the bell when needed. The Redbirds put together their only two scoring drives in the fourth quarter and got a key kickoff return for a touchdown to rally past the Blue Devils 22-12 at Public School Stadium.
"Tip of the hat defensively. I thought (Alton) played great defensively," QHS coach Rick Little said. "We were trying to find ourselves and they had a lot to do with that. It wasn't one of the more consistent games we've played, but at the same time, their defense did a great job and I thought it was a great test for our guys."
Alton (1-1) led 7-6 at halftime on Kavontay Samelton-Danser's 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that answered the first of two rushing touchdowns by Quincy's Adonte Crider. The Redbirds fell behind 12-7 when Crider scored from 10 yards out on a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter.
Alton coach Eric Dickerson issued the challenge to his players to make plays after finishing the game with 13 penalties and three turnovers.
"We made a lot of mistakes out there," Dickerson said. "A lot of false starts, a lot of penalties. They kill drives and it's from false starts to blocking the back. We had two, three touchdowns called back, but we challenged them at halftime on what kind of team we're going to be in the second half. Are we going to fix things and play right and come out and play for the name on the front of the jersey.
"We're going to be OK. We have to shore up some things, and I think we're going to be alright."
Alton (1-1) can thank its defense for holding Quincy (1-1) to 142 yards of net offense, including just 43 in the passing game.
The Redbirds didn't allow Quincy quarterback Lucas Reis to get into any kind of rhythm.
"Coming back this year, I think we lost nine starters last year, so we knew we were going to be really young," Alton defensive coordinator Trent Morgan said. "We wanted to try and take the thinking out of their game. We were moving the linemen and linebackers and moving them together and it worked out tonight."
When Crider burst around the right end and scored on a 10-yard run on fourth and 7 with 11 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the game, it put Quincy ahead 12-7. The Redbirds' offense answered for a second time.
The go-ahead score -- a Tim Johnson 16-yard run with 9:28 remaining -- was set up by an Andrew Jones completion of 42 yards to Javion Morgan to the Blue Devils' 18. Two plays later, Alton was ahead 15-12 after Jones hit Lonnie Tate for a two-point conversion.
The Redbirds' defense got another stop and drove to the Quincy 39 when Jones found Morgan again, this time on a touchdown pass with 6:10 remaining to put Alton up 22-12. Morgan finished with eight catches for 117 yards and one TD.
"To answer was huge because it gave our offense a little more confidence every time," Dickerson said. "No matter what happened, they could hang their hat on the defense. Many times, we hang our hat on the offense.
"We're a team. It just so happens that defense and special teams came through for us."