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St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Gover spearheads University City comeback over Herculaneum for spot in Class 3 district final
Gover spearheads University City comeback over Herculaneum for spot in Class 3 district final
By Tyler Poslosky
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
November 5, 2022
Mekhai Gover thrives in a leadership role for the University City High football team.
Whenever his number is called, the senior quarterback and versatile utilityman steps up.
More times than not, he delivers.
Gover delivered in the biggest of ways Saturday afternoon by engineering a fourth-quarter drive that helped the Lions secure a 20-14 victory over Herculaneum in a Class 3 District 2 semifinal.
“It was really thrilling,” Gover said.
Staring at fourth-and-15 from the Herculaneum 39-yard line, Gover lined up in the shotgun formation. He scanned the defense before signaling for the snap. As the pocket collapsed, Gover stepped right, then left, then up a few yards before firing a 36-yard bullet to tight end DonDujuan Washington inside the 5.
Two plays later, the Lions scored to move ahead 20-14 with 2 minutes and 18 seconds left in regulation.
“In my head, I just slowed down, didn’t rush nothing and let the ball go,” Gover said. “I trusted him and he delivered for me.
“I know I’m a hard guy to tackle. I’m not the tallest, but I’m very agile and shifty, so I try and use that to my advantage. If I see somebody downfield, (I try to) deliver a strike. That’s what helped my team. I love to lead.”
University City (6-5) advanced to play at Cardinal Ritter (11-0) for the district championship Nov. 11 at a time to be announced.
Herculaneum finished 6-5.
The Lions are looking for their first district title since winning the Class 4 District 3 crown over St. Dominic in 2015. That year, the Lions lost to Westminster in the state quarterfinals.
Gover completed 12 of 18 pass attempts for 181 yards with an interception and a touchdown toss — a 6-yard strike to Lashaun Cross that evened the game 14-14 midway through the third quarter.
“With him being a three-, four-year starter, I know Mekhai a lot,” Lions coach Derrick Colquitt said. “His first year, my first year here, he was just another coach on the field. Proud of him. New system — offense, defense special teams. We’re asking for a lot out of him.
“Just this whole season, his leadership has been impressive.”
Herculaneum imposed its will in the first half, despite facing an early 6-0 deficit.
Behind bruising running back Mike Maloney, the Blackcats found a groove on the ground. Maloney rushed for 99 yards on 19 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown off left tackle on the first play of the second quarter to hand his team an 8-6 lead after quarterback Jackson Dearing ran in the two-point conversion.
Maloney finished with a game-high 109 yards on 30 carries.
Dearing hit Dylan Jarvis for a 10-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter to push Herculaneum ahead 14-6.
Then, the Blackcats’ offense fizzled out. They started each of three third-quarter possessions inside their own 20. Two resulted in punts, the other an interception.
“Offensively, we had spurts where we moved the ball and then we kind of stalled,” Herculaneum coach Blane Boss said. “When you get the ball to start the drive inside (your own) 20, it makes it so much tougher on your offense. That seemed like the biggest factor coming out of half to me.”
That set the stage for Gover and the Lions in the fourth.
When the clock read all zeroes, Gover and his teammates soaked up the celebratory scene knowing they have at least one more game to play.
“To see that and know that it’s the first time to go to the district (championship) in like six years, it meant a lot,” Gover said. “It gives us a big push — in the school, on the team, in the community. To see our football team go to the district championship, it’s a good thing for us.”