ST. MARYS — The St. Marys football team is a couple of plays away from a 2-0 start to the season. Instead, they’re a painful, gut-wrenching 0-2.
The Roughriders struggled to move the chains for much of the game and after finally finding some instant offense with a 60-yard touchdown run came up an extra-point shy against the Shawnee Indians in a 14-13 loss at Skip Baughman Stadium on Friday night.
St. Marys has lost its first two games of the season by a combined four points after suffering a 19-16 loss to Sidney a week ago.
Shawnee at St. Marys football photo gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smeveningleader/sets/72157635418356762/show/
St. Marys was again left to ponder another loss by a razor-thin margin.
“They’re down and hurting again, just like last week,” St. Marys head coach Greg Phillips said after talking with the Roughriders in the locker room. “But we had a good week of practice this week and I expect they’ll come back and play hard. They’re good character kids and they’ve worked hard all year long. I don’t think they’ll let it go down the drain.”
Shawnee junior running back Angelo Fox’s 67-yard bolt up the middle for a touchdown and Shawnee’s two-point conversion on a pass from Griffin Hites to Brad Crea early in the third quarter proved to be the difference.
Shawnee first-year head coach Steve Owen, who took over after Dick West retired this offseason, earned his first win as head coach of a program for which he once served as ball boy.
“We didn’t quit,” Owen said. “We worked hard this offseason to finish a game like we did tonight. I’m pretty proud and I’m pretty happy.”
Fox, a 6-foot-2, 206-pound running back with both power and speed, was a major offensive weapon on a night offense came at a premium. Fox rushed for 115 yards on just 11 carries.
“Angelo does a great job for us,” Owen said. “He chose to not go out last year but he came back this year and is a big cog in our offense. There’s no doubt about it. He’s got speed, he’s got power, he’s got strength.”
St. Marys had the momentum early in the fourth quarter, trailing by a single point and driving into Shawnee territory with an offense that had suddenly found life with after Trent Wale busted off a 60-yard touchdown run with in the final minutes of the third quarter.
Quarterback Isaac Fitzgerald connected with freshman Eric Spicer on a deep pass that went for 23 yards and St. Marys had a second and four at the Shawnee 40 yard line when Wale lost control of the ball and Shawnee hopped on it with 9:57 left in the game.
“It was the same play we ran for the touchdown earlier in the half and where he was tackled it was going to be a third and three and then we’re going to take two shots and we were only 15 yards away from being in field goal position and can win the game,” Phillips said.
Shawnee went on a clock-diminishing 11-play drive that didn’t result in points but ended with a perfectly-executed coffin corner punt to pin the Roughriders at their own two yard line with just 3:19 left.
St. Marys couldn’t do anything backed up and Shawnee escaped Skip Baughman Stadium with its first win of the season and the first win for first-year head coach Steve Owen.
The Roughriders, who had just 69 yards of total offense in the first half despite holding a 7-6 lead, got a shot in the arm from Wale in the third quarter.
Wale galloped through the right side of the line on a dive play, kept his balance after stumbling and outraced a quartet of Shawnee defensive backs to the right corner of the end zone.
“We kept probing around and finally found some plays that worked,” Phillips said.
Wale led the Roughriders in rushing for the second straight week, gaining 84 yards on 11 carries. He now leads St. Marys with 181 yards rushing and has a pair of touchdown runs of 45 yards or more.
But St. Marys kicker Clayton Trogdlon’s extra point attempt was low and Shawnee kept its lead 14-13 with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
Shawnee’s defense held a St. Marys rushing attack that ran roughshod over Sidney to the tune of 277 yards to only 163 ground yards.
“Our defensive coordinator Mike Lewis and our defensive coaches have done a great job,” Owen said. “We had one breakdown, but other than that the front four did a great job, as did our linebackers. We’re still learning, but I couldn’t be prouder.”
While defenses dominated the entire night, both the Roughriders and Shawnee found the end zone in the first quarter.
St. Marys jumped out to a 7-0 first-quarter lead with the help of a Shawnee miscue. After the St. Marys defense forced a punt, the long snap jumped over Shawnee punter Connor Bianco’s head. Bianco was leveled at the Shawnee seven yard line.
Four plays later Patrick Obringer squeezed through the left side of the line on a fourth and goal from the one yard line for the opening score. St. Marys went up 7-0 with 7:04 left in the first quarter.
Shawnee got to within one point on a ground-oriented 12-play drive that covered 12 plays and ended with a Griffin Hites seven-yard touchdown run. Bianco’s extra point was no good, as the Roughriders got pressure on the kick.
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