HAMMOND | Martayveus Carter wasn't about to turn in his E.C. Central football helmet and pads for the final time Friday night. His heroic effort on both sides of the ball proved he was ready to carry his team in the biggest game of his high school career.
Carter rushed for 174 yards and three touchdowns and caught a 42-yard touchdown on a screen pass in E.C. Central's 26-21 win over Morton in a Class 4A Sectional 17 opener, marking the first time the Cardinals have ever defeated the Governors.
“It's an awesome win,” Carter said after a boisterous team celebration. “Everybody started doubting us back at home. We all stuck together with hard work through practice and came together with a victory.”
Carter did a little bit of everything for the Cardinals. In addition to carrying his team offensively, the senior star running back intercepted a Torey Armstrong pass late in the game that sealed the win for his team.
“He's a wonderful player,” E.C. Central coach Stacy Adams said of Carter. “Northern Illinois is going to be glad to have him. He's special, and he showed it tonight.”
E.C. Central (8-2) pounded Morton with a heavy dose of Carter in the first half. He carried the ball 13 times for 60 yards and both of the Cardinals touchdowns as Morton led 21-12 at halftime.
The Governors limited E.C. Central quarterback Carlos Fernandez to just 46 passing yards in the first half, and Morton cornerback Da'Mario Johnson scored on a 35-yard interception return late in the first quarter.
However, none of that mattered in a second half where Morton (8-2) gained only 70 total yards of offense and had countless offensive penalties while E.C. Central played inspired defense. Couple that with the fact that E.C. Central played turnover-free football after Morton's first quarter pick, and it was a recipe for a Cardinals win.
“It seemed like the more we pressed, the more we made mistakes,” Morton coach Roy Richards said. “It was tough. We kind of saw the momentum slipping with more mistakes we'd make. You have to credit them; they didn't make mistakes.”
E.C. Central will host Griffith (3-7) next Friday in a sectional semifinal, as the Panthers defeated Clark in another opener.