St. Mary’s rushes for more than 300 yards, routs No. 19 St. Paul’s for first in MIAA B football (VIDEO HERE!)

St. Mary’s running back Marcus Marshall makes his way upfield as teammate Ryan Jones (22) prepares to block St. Paul’s Quizzon Tarver during Friday’s MIAA B Conference football contest. Marshall finished with 190 yards on 31 carries as the Saints claimed sole possession of first with a 28-7 win over the 19th-ranked Crusaders at Tullai Field in Brooklandville.

by Gary Adornato

Despite winning the MIAA B Conference championship a year ago, St. Mary’s High traveled to St. Paul’s School as a perceived underdog Friday, and the Saints carried a bit of a chip on their shoulders because of it.

That chip served the Saints well, as they dominated the line of scrimmage, rushing for 322 yards on offense and forcing five turnovers on defense, to leave Brooklandville with an impressive 28-7 win over the 19th-ranked Crusaders.

Leading the way was senior running back Marcus Marshall, who sliced through the Crusader defense for 190 yards on 31 carries and two scores. Junior teammate Alex Wicks added 87 more rushing yards, and a touchdown, while quarterback Chris Gollini through for a pivotal score at the end of the first half.

“We graduated a lot of seniors. We graduated 21 starters from last year’s team,” said St. Mary’s coach Jason Burdoni. “I guess everybody’s not expecting us to be as good as we’re doing. So, I guess we’ve got a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. We’ll just keep grinding away.”

St. Mary’s (4-3 overall, 3-0 MIAA B) took the lead for good with just two seconds left in the first half. Immediately after St. Paul’s scored to tie the game at 7-7, with 42-seconds left in the second quarter, the Saints needed just three plays to create a momentum boost going into the half.

Starting at their own 30 after a squib kick, St. Mary’s gave the ball to Marshall for nine yards and Golini completed a pass to Wicks for 12 more. One snap later, junior Dhane Blair streaked wide open up the center seam and Golini hit him stride to give the Saints a 14-7 lead at the half.

St. Mary’s dominated the third quarter, launching a 30-yard scoring drive after junior Keith Day recovered a fumble by the Crusaders. Marshall carried on all four plays of the drive, slicing in from two-yards out for the score.

“We couldn’t have done that without our O-Line,” said Marshall of the big rushing performance. “I can’t thank them (enough). It’s them not me.”

After a St. Paul’s punt, the Saints drove 80 yards in 12 plays with Wicks going the final yard for the final score of the afternoon.

Both teams moved the ball well on their opening drives of the day, with St. Mary’s moving from its own 31, after the opening kick, to the St. Paul’s 24. The drive stalled, however, and the Saints came away empty handed when Dominic Donohue’s 41-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. Marshall ran eight times for 45 yards on the march.

St. Paul’s (4-2, 2-1 MIAA B) moved the ball through the air on its first possession, as senior quarterback Leo Kelly completed 5-of-8 tosses for 44 yards to help the Crusaders move from their own 20 down to the St. Mary’s 29. On a fourth-and-12 play, Saints junior Samir Booth sacked Kelly for a nine yard loss to turn the ball back on downs.

The Saints broke on top early in the second quarter. After moving from their own 39 to the St. Paul’s 32 on the final six plays of the first quarter, Marshall took the first snap of the second quarter 32 yards down to the 1. On the next play, he dove over the pile for the game’s first touchdown.

St. Paul’s countered late in the half as the Crusaders went 74 yards in 12 plays, with Kelly scoring on a one-yard sneak, setting up a little excitement.

Although the Crusaders never led in the contest, it appeared as though they did briefly. After a low snap on the extra-point attempt, holder Alex Sulin scrambled to his right and flipped an apparent two-point conversion toss to Phillip Stokes. No flags were thrown and both teams moved to midfield in preparation for the kickoff with the scoreboard showing an 8-7 lead for St. Paul’s.

The officials, however, huddled and then threw a flag, stating that Stokes was not an eligible receiver on the play, negating the conversion pass. The teams reset for another conversion kick, which Damian Ramos made, leaving the contest tied at 7-7.

In the first half, Kelly made several plays under heavy pressure, as he was able to dance out of the pocket and find targets. But, as the game wore on, the St. Mary’s defenders began to get home, sacking Kelly three times and intercepting him twice.

The Crusaders also lost three fumbles. Kelly finished 14-for-25 for 157 yards.

“St. Mary’s is very well coached and they came in here and played a great game,” said St. Paul’s coach Scott Ripley. “We made some mistakes to hurt ourselves, but they deserve the credit.”

According to St. Mary’s senior linebacker Ian Krampf, his team’s success had a lot to do with excellent preparation.

“We knew coming in we had a tough week of practice,” said Krampf. “We were game planning. We knew what they were going to do and, luckily, it just went in our favor. The coaches, can’t thank them enough, they prepared us very well for this game.”

Budroni said his team still has a lot of work to do, especially with the passing game, if it hopes to repeat as conference champions.

Marcus Marshall (left) led St. Mary’s offense with 190 yards and two touchdowns while Keith Day and Ian Krampf were part of a dominant Saints defense Friday. The defending MIAA B champs took a major step towards a second straight final trip with Friday’s victory.

“I’m not disappointed,” said Budroni. “I think we did a good job running the ball today. We have to pass the ball better than we did today. We still have three more conference games to play today and it’s going to be tough. We can’t be one dimensional the whole year.”

Getting to 3-0 in the league gives the Saints and advantage in their quest to finish in the top two and earn a spot in the league championship game in November.

St. Paul’s (4-2 overall) is now 2-1 in the league and tied for third place with Boys’ Latin. St. Vincent Pallotti, which defeated Archbishop Curley, 46-34, on Friday currently sits in second place at 3-1, but St. Paul’s does own a tie-break advantage over the Panthers by virtue of a head-to-head win. Pallotti, however, owns a win and tie-break advantage over Boys’ Latin, which plays out of conference against Catoctin on Saturday.

With just six league games, those head-to-head battle will be critical in breaking ties and determining which two teams play in the championship game.

SM 0 14 14 0 — 28
SP 0 7 0 0 — 7

2ND Qtr
SM – Marcus Marshall 1 run (Dominic Donohue kick)
SP – Leo Kelly 1 run (Damian Ramos kick)
SM – Dhane Blair 37 pass from Chris Golini (Donohue kick)

3RD Qtr
SM – Marshall 2 eun (Donohue kick)
SM – Alex Wicks 1 run (Donohue kick)