Monday, August 25th, 2008
By Gary R. Rasberry
St. Henry slips by Marion Pleasant with blocked PAT
MARION - After a scoreless first half, it came down to execution and tenacity to decide a winner in the fifth meeting between St. Henry and Marion Pleasant.
The Redskins scored two touchdowns in the third quarter, then braved a Spartan comeback that came down to a missed PAT, a botched special teams move and a last-minute defensive stand that allowed St. Henry to beat Pleasant for the fifth time, 14-13, at Pleasant High School on Saturday night.
In the first 24 minutes of the game, St. Henry allowed Pleasant to drive into its territory, but was able to force punts or take over on downs on each occasion. St. Henry, however, was able to get only as close as the Pleasant 48-yard line before giving up possession.
"We played the game I thought we had to play to win," said Redskins coach Jeff Starkey. "We had one turnover, and I don't think we ever got a turnover. We knew we had to keep it close and keep the score down. We were going to have to play great defense and great special teams."
"Our defense did an outstanding job and our offense had opportunities," said veteran Spartans coach Chris Kubbs, "But we had a couple of dropped passes."
St. Henry got the ball to start the second half and immediately took control of the game with a 10-play, 69-yard drive that featured Brent Prenger. Prenger carried five times and picked up 35 yards to get the Redskins to the Pleasant 22. On second-and-five, Jordan Post, getting the start at quarterback for the injured Brad Stahl, went right before turning and firing the other way to tight end Shawn Dues, who scampered the 22 yards with 8:14 on the clock to put the Redskins up, 7-0.
After a Spartan punt, St. Henry made short work to go up 14-0 as Neil Schwieterman took the handoff on the first play, scooted through the defense and arrived at the end zone 72 yards later, making it 14-0 after Jon Speck's PAT.
"We were just getting chunks at a time," said Starkey. "Then Neil broke one that got a lot of momentum."
The big run seemed to respark Pleasant, which scored on the ensuing drive. Quarterback Cody Harris used solid passing to Cory Snyder and Elijah Sparling to move the chains, then got a big 20-yard run from fullback Jake Lawrence to put the ball at the Redskin 1, where Snyder punched in to make it 14-7.
"When we were down 14-0 I was not worried." said coach Kubbs. "We had things we thought we could hurt them with and we did."
After a Redskin four-and-out, Harris marched Pleasant 77 yards on eight plays, again finding key passes and getting a big run from Lawrence before Snyder cleaned up with a four-yard scoring run, but Corey Kubbs' PAT try was blocked to keep the score at 14-13.
"The point after, it's got to be executed, but that one play was not the difference." said coach Kubbs.
After a St. Henry possession went nowhere, Pleasant tried to drive again, but was lining up to punt from its own 33. The snap was over Corey Kubbs head and forced him to punt deep in his own territory. The ball landed on the Pleasant 37 - a four-yard punt - but a St. Henry player touched the ball, making it live. A Spartan jumped on the ball and the Spartans had new life. It would not last, however, as St. Henry's defense stepped up and limited Pleasant to just three yards before losing possession.
St. Henry, however, could not move the ball as both Prenger and Schwieterman appeared to be victims of cramps brought on by the heat. Forced to punt, Victor Fortkamp booted the ball to the Pleasant 22, giving the Spartans one more chance.
Harris moved the ball early, finding Kyle Beck for 19 yards and Sparling for another 14 to get into Redskin territory. After Harris got nine yards on the ground, St. Henry came back with a gang-sack, forcing the Spartans, who had no timeouts, to spike the ball forcing a fourth down. Harris looked deep for a receiver, but the catch was made out of bounds. Post then took two knees to close it out.
"We made some defensive stops," said Starkey. "We made a little mental mistake on the punt, but we came back and played. Our kids never stopped battling. I don't think I've been more proud of a football team."
Prenger paced the Redskins with 109 yards on 22 totes while Schwieterman added 92 yards on six carries.
Harris was 13-of-25 for 145 yards, with Sparling snagging six passes for 84 yards. Lawrence finished with 53 yards rushing.
St. Henry opens the home schedule Friday, hosting Kenton Ridge.
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