Gaels capture Lambert Cup with a 49-7 romp over visiting St. Mary’s-Ryken (VIDEO HERE)


by Gary Adornato

When informed by a reporter that he had passed for 407 yards, in a little more than one half of play in his team’s 49-7 season-opening win over St. Mary’s-Ryken, Mount St. Joseph sophomore quarterback Billy Atkins smiled in disbelief as he glanced at the proof on the stat sheet.

Atkins then grinned and said, “That’s pretty good.”

Indeed it was.

Atkins was nearly flawless from the pocket, completing 18-of-22 throws for the 425 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. Nine of his completions went for 20 yards or more and three went for more than 40 yards. If he did not do enough damage with his right arm, Atkins also converted all seven of his extra-point kicks for the Gaels.

In addition, Atkins’ 425 yards set a new single game school passing record, breaking the 408 yards tossed for by Nick Tannis in 2001.

“This year, we are very talented,” said Atkins. “We have great receivers on the outside and great slots in the middle of the field that just makes my life easier.”

Atkins also credited Mount St. Joe head coach Rich Holzer for aiding his improvement from last fall to this season.

“I want to thank Coach Holzer because he held a QB school which really helped me train for the season,” added Atkins. “Plus, the experience from last year, watching the film from last year, and putting it to work this year on the field has helped.”

Sophomore Andre Crawley led a Gael receiving corp that carved up the Ryken secondary, as he made five receptions for 122 yards and two scores, while classmate Dont’e Thornton, Jr., a Penn State commit, pulled in four balls for 129 yards.

Senior Maurice Nelson also had a big day, catching five passes, including three over 20 yards, for 89 yards and a score and fellow senior Kahri Barfield grabbed four balls for 53 yards.

Freshman defensive end Stephen Schulze recovered two fumbles in his debut.

Junior Marlowe Wax scored the Mount’s first two touchdowns of the day, both on 3-yard runs, sophomore L.J. Johnson ran for a 6-yard score in the third quarter, and junior Jordan Oliver capped the scoring with an 8-yard run in the fourth quarter.

The Gaels took advantage of a short field on their first possession of the day as Ryken punter William Johnson failed on a run attempt on fourth down, deep in his own territory, setting up St. Joe at the Knights’ 33-yard line. Four plays later, Wax converted from the three for a 7-0 lead.

St. Joe turned the ball over on downs on its second possession as Atkins was sacked on a fourth-and-goal situation at the Ryken eight and the first quarter ended with the Gaels up only 7-0.

Early in the second quarter, however, Atkins converted a 37-yard toss to Barfield to setup another short TD run by Wax and the Gaels’ led 14-0 with 11:56 to play in the opening half.

Atkins would lead the Gaels into the end zone three more times in the opening half to send St. Joe to the intermission with a 35-0 lead. The second half opened under a running clock and Atkins assured it would stay that way with an eight play 73-yard drive capped by Johnson’s TD run. The big play on the drive was a 41-yard pass from Atkins to Crawley.

Aside from a late drive in the second quarter that led to an unsuccessful field goal attempt, the St. Joe starting defense kept the Knights bottled up and frustrated all afternoon. Like the offense, the Gael defense is led by young stars including 6-foot-1, 215-pound freshman defensive end Stephen Schulze who recovered two fumbles in the contest and put a lot of pressure on Ryken quarterback Trevor Nored. Junior Michael Morrison also blocked a punt.

“I was really nervous starting on varsity as a freshman,” said Schulze of his high school debut. “It was a big deal for me and my family just because we are big sports fans. I feel really proud about the way I played today. I just want to do my part and make sure I am doing the correct stuff and not messing up too much.”

Following their opening game victory over St. Mary’s-Ryken, the MSJ Gaels hoist the Lambert Cup.

Nored finally got Ryken on the board in the fourth quarter with a 10-yard rushing touchdown against the Gaels second unit. St. Joe’s second team offense also contributed a score as as backup QB Ryan Mills drove the team 61 yards in eight plays to setup Oliver’s score. Mills was 3-for-5 for 67 yards including a 48-yard hookup with junior Amir Hall.

The game was important for both teams as it is played annually for the Brother Lambert Cup. Brother Lambert Bents, an Xaverian Brother who graduated from Mount St. Joseph in 1936, spent many years as a teacher and coach at the Irvington School. Several years later he was the founding principal at St. Mary’s Ryken in Leonardtown. The game has been played since 2014 and the home team has won each time.

Pictured above: Mount St. Joseph sophomore quarterback Bill Atkins threw for 407 yards and three scores in the Gaels’ season-opening win.

MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 49, ST. MARY’S-RYKEN 7
SMR 0 0 0 7 — 7
MSJ 7 28 7 7 — 49

1STQ
MSJ – Marlowe Wax 3-yard run (Billy Atkins kick)

2NDQ
MSJ – Wax 3-yard run (Atkins kick)
MSJ – Maurice Nelson 20-pass from Atkins (Atkins kick)
MSJ – Andrew Crawley 28-pass from Atkins (Atkins kick)
MSJ – Crawley 13 pass from Atkins (Atkins kick)

3RDQ
MSJ – LJ Johnson 6-yard run (Atkins kick)

4THQ
SMR – Trevor Nored 10-yard run (Joseph Newton kick)
MSJ – Jordan Oliver 8-yard run (Atkins kick)