In a game filled with big plays and very little defense, the St. Mary’s Panthers got a bunch of the former and just enough of the latter to take down St. Patrick’s, winning 42-34 on Saturday in Berkeley.
The St. Mary’s win sets up a potential BSAL championship game against Piedmont on Friday. The Highlanders were undefeated in the league going into their game against Kennedy on Friday, but the game was suspended due to darkness with Piedmont in the lead. No decision has been made on the result of the game.
The Panthers (5-4 overall, 3-1 BSAL) scored four long touchdowns against St. Patrick’s. Courtney Brown scored on an 89-yard kickoff return early in the game, then broke a short pass for a 51-yard touchdown later in the first quarter, and tailback Trestin George scored on runs of 57 and 64 yards sandwiching halftime.
The Bruins (4-5, 2-2) were clearly hell-bent on stopping George, stacking nine men on the line of scrimmage for most of the game, leaving the Berkeley wide receivers with single coverage. Although St. Mary’s quarterback Steve Murphy had just 157 passing yards, he made them count, throwing for two scores and suffering through several drops by his receivers.
“They were playing without a safety, so we threw the ball,” St. Mary’s head coach Jay Lawson said. “We told Trestin to be patient, that we’d need him later.”
George left the game in the fourth quarter with a strained hamstring after a late hit by St. Patrick’s Will Dunlap, but managed to pick up 171 yards and three scores on just eight carries.
“They couldn’t stop me on the field, so they targeted me,” George said. “They were doing anything to get me out of the game.”
George lost the statistical battle with St. Patrick’s running back Justin Ewers, who ran for 259 yards on 36 carries. But Ewers gained 178 of those yards in the first half, and appeared to tire a bit as the second half wore on.
“Ewers might have had better numbers today, but I’m all about winning games, and we got the win,” George said.
The Bruins had one last gasp on their final drive, driving the ball down to the St. Mary’s 21 yard-line with 20 seconds left and down by eight points. But their complete lack of a passing game (just 18 yards in the air) did them in. Brown broke up a pass on first down, and St. Patrick’s quarterback Aaron Capapas threw the ball away under heavy pressure on the next play, leaving just six seconds on the clock. Capapas went down hard on the play and was forced to leave the game.
With Dunlap at quarterback, the Bruins tried a little trickery, pitching the ball to Ewers for a throw. But St. Mary’s linebacker Chase Moore lived up to his name and contained Ewers, batting the ball out of his hands as the clock ran out.
“I was just doing my job, keeping containment,” Moore said. “I didn’t want him to get that pass off.”