by Hunter Dawkins & Joseph W. Gex II

The soggy conditions along with mistakes and penalties led to a defensive game, as the Saint Stanislaus (SSC) Rock-a-chaws held on for a 14-6 victory over the Long Beach Bearcats Friday night at Lumpkin Magee Field.  Long Beach (1-2) has yet to win a home game in 2020 while the Rocks are undefeated (3-0) after traveling for the first time this season.

Both teams racked up over 50 plays and close to 100 penalty yards, stopping drives or resulting in turnovers.  Last year, the Rockachaws won 35-19; finishing higher on the scoreboard.

“We had to make a couple of fourth down stops late in the game to stop them,” expressed St. Stanislaus Head Football Coach Nate Encrapera.  “As the game went on, we were able to figure it out defensively.”

“We shot ourselves in the foot on both sides of the ball,” said Long Beach Head Football Coach Ryan Ross.  “We had selfish penalties that ended up hurting the football program and we are trying to get over the hump from in building better character.”

Despite getting less than 220 yards total offense, SSC Quarterback Gage Peterson scored on runs of nine and five yards to account for the Rocks’ touchdowns.  Peterson finished with 47 yards on 11 carries and had two completions for 19 yards.  Junior Davien Lagarde led the Rocks with 77 yards on 8 carries and caught both passes for 19 yards.

The Bearcats were held to 137 yards total offense with Long Beach Quarterback Charlie Starita going 5-18 passing for 44 yards in the air and only four yards on seven carries from the ground.  Running Back J.R. McFarland led the ground attack with 49 yards on 8 carries and the one touchdown.

In an illusive play to start the game, SSC kicked an onside kick to start the game, which they recovered inside midfield to begin the series.  After five plays, the Rockachaws fumbled that was recovered by Long Beach Senior Defensive Lineman Adam Krol.

Nothing resulted in this turnover until the next possession when St. Stanislaus Peterson ran around the corner from 9 yards out for the first touchdown of the game.  Following SSC Senior Kicker Gene Hoffman’s first extra point conversion with 5:36 left in the first quarter, the early score was 7-0 Rockachaw lead that lasted through the end of the quarter.

Four possessions dominated by penalties and no points occurred down to the last two minutes of the first half.

St. Stanislaus began the eight play drive near midfield where five running plays brought the Rockachaws within striking distance.  Peterson was determined to break the end zone and did on third down from 5 yards out.  Hoffman converted his last extra point with 1:56 left in the half and the Rocks increased the lead 14-0.

Long Beach tried to attack quickly, but this forced a punt that SSC fumbled and was recovered by Senior Linebacker D’Alan King in the red zone (inside the 20).  The next play, McFarland took it to the house with a 37 yard touchdown scamper.  When the extra point was blocked by the Rockachaws at 1:04, the new score was 14-6.  Unseeingly not sure, this would be the final score at the half and the game as neither team would budge defensively in the second half.

Coming out of the gates for the second half, neither teams had sustainable drives and both had penalties that killed their series.

St. Stanislaus was led defensively by Senior Brady Favre who finished with 10 tackles, one sack, three tackles-for-loss, and 2 hurries.  Favre and fellow Rockachaw Senior Brian Bilich had four solo tackles.  SSC Outside Linebacker Alex Fabra had the other sack for a 6 yard loss.

“Give Long Beach credit as trying to prepare for a split back veer offense on one day of practice is quite difficult,” noted Encrapera.  “I thought we played well on both sides of the ball at different times of the game.”

Long Beach Senior Linebacker Marcus Duncan was the workhorse with 12 tackles and 6 solo.  Additionally, King had 6 solo tackles and 2 tackles-for-loss.  The Bearcats Defensive Back AJ Allen grabbed his second interception of the year along with fellow Cornerback Julius Wells blocking a field goal in the second quarter.

“Fortunately tonight, we played hard enough to stay in the game, but then we shot ourself in the foot,” stated Ross.  “We have to have a blue collar attitude and fear of failure.”

Undefeated St. Stanislaus plays against winless Poplarville on the road again at 7pm next Friday.  Likewise, Long Beach hosts their first district game at Lumpkin Magee Field on September 25.