After breakdowns on special teams helped the DeSales High School football team stay within seven points, Orchard Park (Mich.) St. Mary’s went back to what it does best in the second half.
St. Mary’s rushed for 256 yards on 29 carries in the second half to beat the host Stallions 42-21 on Friday, Sept. 23. The Eaglets finished with 389 yards rushing and 471 yards of total offense.
“They’re a good football team,” said DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins, whose team fell to 2-3 as the Eaglets improved to 4-1. “In that third quarter, we needed a couple of stops and we just couldn’t get them.”
“We didn’t stick to our game plan,” Stallions defensive back Jalen Noble said. “Our defense just wasn’t meshing. There are obviously some things we need to correct by next week.”
St. Mary’s, a Division III state runner-up the last two years, set the tone on the opening drive of the second half. They went 72 yards on 12 plays with Grant Niemiec scoring on a 1-yard run to expand the lead to 28-14. Only once on the drive did the Eaglets face a third down.
Niemiec, who rushed for 143 yards on 16 carries, converted the third-and-1 at the DeSales’ 41-yard line.
Also for St. Mary’s, Spencer McInnis rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, and Parker McInnis had 103 yards and a score on 16 carries.
For the Stallions, J.T. Blubaugh rushed for 107 yards on eight carries, including a 35-yard scoring run in the third quarter to make the score 35-21. Warren Ball was limited to 21 yards on nine carries.
DeSales committed four of its five turnovers in the first half, including a botched pitch which strong safety Austin Crutchfield scooped up and returned 11 yards for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter to give the Eaglets’ a 14-7 lead.
Noble helped keep DeSales in the game in the first half with big plays on special teams. He blocked a punt by Charles Croone. Three plays later, quarterback Alex Perrine hit Ryan Maloney for an 8-yard touchdown. Perrine finished 8-for-15 for 129 yards and two touchdowns and an interception.
Later with the Stallions trailing 21-7, Noble grabbed Croone’s jersey, forcing the Eaglets’ punter into a 10-yard punt. A play later, Perrine found Charles Chandler for a 52-yard touchdown to pull the Stallions within 21-14 with 6:03 left in the first half.
Noble also intercepted a pass by St. Mary’s quarterback Dan Clements pass inside the DeSales 11 with 14.2 seconds left in the first half.
“Their offense has scored a lot of points and hasn’t done a lot of punting,” Wiggins said. “We felt like maybe we could get some pressure on them.”
“We found a hole (in their punting game) while watching the game tape,” Noble said. “Coach trusted me, and I went out there and got after it.”
ST. MARY’S 14 7 14 7 -- 42
DeSALES 7 7 7 0 -- 21
D -- Maloney 8 pass from Perrine (Ciammaichella kick)
SM -- P. McInnis 8 run (Parry kick)
SM -- Crutchfield 11 fumble return (Parry kick)
SM -- Niemiec 3 run (Parry kick)
D -- Chandler 52 pass from Perrine (Ciammaichella kick)
SM -- Niemiec 1 run (Parry kick)
SM -- S. McInnis 7 run (Parry kick)
D -- Blubaugh 35 run (Ciammaichella kick)
SM -- S. McInnis 35 run (Parry kick)