The Saint Stanislaus Rock-a-chaws employed a stingy defense and second half moxie to dispatch the St. Martin Yellow Jackets 21-16 ‘between the walls’ on Friday night.
The win marked the first time SSC has beat St. Martin since 2014 when SSC win 34-31.
The stingy defense of the Rocks was punishing and swatted away almost all attempts by the Yellow Jackets.
Early in the game, St. Martin found success and jumped out to a 10-0.
Makia Hebert put the Yellow Jackets (0-1) ahead when he slashed his way 37 yards to the endzone for a touchdown with 3:03 left in the first quarter. Gabriel Showalter converted on the PAT to make the score 7-0.
The Rocks fumbled away on the ensuing possession and the Yellow Jackets capitalized on the mistake with a 36-yard field goal by Showalter as time expired in the first quarter to push the lead to 10-0.
After swapping possessions two straight times, the Rocks finally found their groove when Grant Sides recovered a fumbled snap at the Yellow Jacket 23 yard line.
Gage Peterson, in his first start at quarterback, hit Nour Tayara for a 17-yard gain followed by a six-yard rush to the one yard line.
Peterson called his own number a second consecutive time and scored on a one-yard carry with 1:03 left in the first half. Gene Hoffman converted the PAT to make the score 10-7 heading into intermission.
The Rocks got the ball to start the second half and they immediately went back to work. Chandler Chapman ripped off an 11-yard gain followed by two aerials from Peterson for seven and 20 yards, respectively.
Two plays later, Peterson hooked up with Connor Ladner for a 41-yard touchdown strike with 9:12 left in the third quarter. Hoffman converted on the PAT to give the Ricks a 14-10 lead that they would not surrender.
The Yellow Jackets had an extended nine-play drive that resulted in St. Martin pinning the Rocks down at their own 14 yard line.
However, the Rocks would not be swayed and converted a six-play drive into more points.
After a four-yard gain by Kyle Stegall, Peterson hit Tayara for a 65-yard strike down to the Yellow Jackets’ 13 yard line. Peterson then called his number for gains for four, three, and two yards before he connected with Ladner on a four-yard touchdown aerial with 1:13 left in the third quarter.
Hoffman converted on the PAT to make the score 21-10.
The Rocks stuffed the Yellow Jackets on a 13-play drive to force a punt. The Rocks were flagged for holding on the punt and took over on their own two yard line.
Chapman carried for eight yards and Peterson found Stegall for 10 more. But, the Rocks fumbled the ball on the next play which was returned 17 yards for a touchdown by Javon James with 6:22 left in the game.
Noreel White was smothered by Bilich, Ryan Tyler, Grant Sides and others on the two-point conversion attempt leaving the final score 21-16.
SSC head coach Nate Encrapera commented, “Games come down to minimizing mistakes early in the season. We were able to rebound from some adversity tonight getting down early but we had other mistakes that we let stick around a while. Whenever we play St. Martin, it always comes down to a big play. We talked about that all week. We impress upon our players that ‘Event + Response = Outcome’. How you respond to the event leads to the outcome. This game was a game of momentum. Each team had it at certain times. Now, we are 0-0 again. We have to get ready for a West Marion team that we do not know anything about and have never played in our history. We get back to work on Sunday to prepare for the next step in the process.”
Peterson led the Rocks on offense with 14 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown and threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns on 11-for-18 passing. Tayara had three catches for 84 yards while Ladner finished with three catches for 57 yards and two scores.
On defense, the Rocks were paced by Blake Bilich with 14 tackles including six solos, six tackles fkr loss (-27 yards) and a forced fumble. Trustin Northington added 11 tackles and Tyler had 10.
St. Martin was paced by Hebert with 15 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown.
This week the Rocks will host West Marion High School at Pearl River Community College. This will be the first meeting between the two teams. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. See you at the game!